City closes door on historic traffic summit

You’re not invited to one of the most anticipated meetings of the year.

The Department of Transportation’s upcoming sit-down with the two feuding Manhattan Beach civic groups about traffic safety will be closed to the public and press. The meeting will be the first time that the divided groups, the Manhattan Beach Civic Group and its Neighborhood Association offshoot, present a unified front.

The city made the call to close the door on the exclusive discussion, which will take place this month at the office of Brooklyn DOT commissioner Joseph Palmieri, according to Edmund Dweck of the Neighborhood Association.

“It’s not unusual for the city to make these meetings private,” Dweck said. “It was never meant to be a public forum.”

At the meeting, for which a date has not yet been set, the Neighborhood Association and the Manhattan Beach Civic Group will present their joint proposal for how to make the streets of Manhattan Beach safer for both pedestrians and drivers. Both groups have been especially fervent about their requests since four-year-old Evan Svirsky was struck and killed by a bus on Oriental Boulevard in October. There have been 59 car accidents on the strip since 2005, according to the Department of Transportation.

The community leaders’ proposal includes suggestions for more traffic lights along Shore Boulevard, increased police presence and additional speed-calming measures. They have already achieved one victory, as the Oriental Boulevard planters that residents have been complaining about since 2005 were removed last week.

“We’ll go in there with our presentation boards and diagrams, hoping that the city considers most of our proposal,” Dweck said. “But we have a long list of requests.”

Manhattan Beach Civic Group president, Ira Zalcman, declined to comment on the meeting.