I had a few things to say at the Bensonhurst West End Community Council meeting in the Harway Terrace Community room on Oct. 28.
Guest speakers were Community Board 13 Chairman Eddie Mark, Brian Gotlieb, Todd Dobrin and Assemblyman William Colton — and they all heard what I had to say.
First, I needed to jog some memories regarding the 1979 coterminality edict that was to put the area below 26th Avenue to the Coney Island creek — which included the three Contello’s high risers and Harway Terrace — under the control of the 60th Precinct (and all its problems in Coney Island). At the time, the area was patrolled by the 62nd Precinct in Community Board 11.
To stop it, I pointed out, we started a coalition called the “Committee To Save Bensonhurst.”
As co-chairman of that committee, I helped postpone the 60th Precinct takeover of the area for two years thanks to rallies, meetings and court battles. We even hung Mayor Koch in effigy over the Coney Island Creek with a mile-long motorcade passing by.
We understood then that the Coney Island problems would always take precedent over Bensonhurst’s needs, whether they were police, fire, sanitation or transportation … AND WE WERE RIGHT!
And here’ the proof: rewind back to the meeting.
I explained to Mark the dangers of the new Indianapolis Speedway that Cropsey Avenue’s Belt Parkway overpass has become. There is an extreme incline over the hill and visibility is limited, yet cars continue to race over it blindly! To further exasperate the situation, the city is painting the overpasses and has completely blocked the only pedestrian sidewalk, taking over two lanes. The new right-turn signal adds to the danger, because vehicles have to wait for the turn signal, leaving only one remaining lane to go southbound. Of course, warning signage is nil. Worst of all, pedestrians have to dangerously use the one remaining lane to get into Coney Island and NOTHING IS BEING DONE TO MAKE IT SAFE!
Ironically, when the right turn into the eastbound Belt Parkway first was opened, the police had a field day giving tickets to cars that were turning left onto the Belt Parkway — which was how they were doing it for years. Multiple complaints from our elected officials got signage indicating the new entrance to the eastbound parkway. Left turns were not only prohibited but quite profitable to the city’s coffers. Meanwhile, pedestrians with baby carriages, strollers, shopping carts, bicycles, wheelchairs and motorized handicapped scooters (like mine!) must take the perilous path to get to Pathmark, Burger King, the Parkview Diner (which is delicious, by the way), Home Depot, Raymour and Flanagan, Starbucks or just get into Coney Island!
Department of Transportation take notice! An important issue brought up at the meeting by a school crossing guard was the desperate need for a signal light at Bay 49th Street and Harway Avenue. The intersection is used by hundreds of youngsters that must cross to PS 212, and then cross again to get back home.
The anger of area residents was echoed time and time again, because the B64 bus that was recently removed was their lifeline to transportation: the elderly, sick, school kids and, especially, the handicapped, find it extremely difficult to schlep to Cropsey Avenue to catch a bus. The B64 was their direct line to the Stillwell Avenue terminal. Every single day, people stop me and ask, When are we getting our B64 back? Why are those same buses passing our stops EMPTY, doesn’t it cost the same to pay the bus drivers whether the bus is full or not? I imagine the cost of the gasoline is the same too!But hey, Jay Walder, the head of the MTA, had to find a half-million dollars somewhere to pay his lucrative annual salary. Meanwhile the mayor continues to stand by him and thinks he’s doing a great job … compared to whom?
To be continued…
Screech at you next week!