City: ‘No Parking’ the holy grail for Church traffic

How do you spell traffic relief? N-O P-A-R-K-I-N-G!

The city says it can fix the traffic nightmare along Church Avenue by eliminating 40 parking spots during certain times along portions of the strip, clearing the way for trucks to unload merchandise for up to eight hours a day on weekdays.

“We are hoping this will open things up,” said the Department of Transportation’s Stacey Hodge.

Over the summer, city inspectors surveyed traffic patterns along the avenue, from E. 16th Street to E. 21st Street, not-so-shockingly found “terrible” conditions between E. 16th and E. 17th streets and from E. 18th to E. 19th streets — where battles for curb space between shoppers, truckers and ubiquitous dollar vans inevitably lead to double-parking by everyone — and all the bad things that come with it.

In the eyes of the city, it appears the truckers have won the war, as plans approved by the Transportation Committee of Community Board 14 would allow trucks making deliveries to park in most places on both north and south sides of the area between 7 am and 12 pm. Trucks will get most of the day — 7 am to 3 pm — to park on the north side of Church Avenue from E. 18th to E. 19th streets.

One-hour metered parking resumes once the delivery window is shut.

The news is considered a blessing by some merchants on the strip.

“Two trucks once blocked the entire avenue,” said Aurelao Ordolon, the manager of Meat Palace Supreme, at Church between E. 18th Street and St. Paul’s Place, who’s store receives up to 10 deliveries every day. “This will make it easier for drivers to pass.”

But not everyone was keen on the proposal.

“For controlling congestion, it’s good, but for business, it is not good,” said one merchant who wished to remain anonymous. “Where are our customers going to park?”

Some shoppers see the initiative as a curse.

“That’s a terrible idea. You have to be able to park to shop. I’m with a disabled person, so how far away do I have to go to find a space. It limits [disabled] mobility,” said shopper Jamie Worrell.

“I live in Canarsie and come here to shop,” said Wilbert Joly. “Where can I go to park? There’s no municipal parking here.”

Some shoppers predicted the move will hurt the avenue’s bottom line.

“It’s tough enough parking already,” noted Doug Kleve. “With all the spaces gone, people won’t come. If you can’t park, then people will go somewhere else where you can. Traffic will improve, but all the businesses will hurt.”

Eustese Alfred agreed.

“I would definitely shop somewhere else if I couldn’t park here,” she said. “It would be very disturbing.”

Still, business leaders cheered the proposal, pointing out that most avenue shoppers walk to the stores.

“I think it is one that is dealing with really difficult conditions,” said Mark Dicus, interim executive director of the Church Avenue Business Improvement District. “There is just not a lot of space of Church Avenue and they’re trying to optimize the management of a limited amount of curbside.”

Hodge said the program could begin by early next year, or as soon as signs are fabricated.

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