Gerritsen Beachers demand halt to city scheme to ax dozens of parking spots

Gerritsen Beachers are calling for the city to revise a reconstruction project planned for its streetscape.
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Gerritsen Beach residents are calling on city planning honchos to revisit a neighborhood-wide plan to refurbish the area’s Sandy-damaged infrastructure, complaining that the scheme would narrow streets and ax dozens of parking spaces. 

“We want them to tweak it to our favor,” said John Mooney. “You can’t go wrong with paving the streets, but shortening the blocks and taking away 50 parking spots, that’s a no-go.” 

The project — spearheaded by the city Department of Design and Construction — includes replacing water mains, sewers, and catch basins in Gerritsen Beach’s “old section,” which is defined as the neighborhood’s southern peninsula, while also upgrading street lights, traffic signals, hydrants, curbs, sidewalks, and roadways as part of the project. 

But Mooney, president of the Gerritsen Beach Property Owners Association, said the plan to install new catch basins requires the city to eliminate a whopping 50 of the area’s already scarce parking spots.

“They are moving catch basins over three feet, that takes a parking spot,” Mooney said. “Additional spots will be taken away by the new sidewalks.” 

The city wants to widen sidewalks throughout the neighborhood as part of the sprawling infrastructure plan, which another Gerritsen Beacher, Salvatore Speciale, claimed would force work vehicles to sideswipe cars parked on the narrower streets. 

“They want to come out a couple of inches on the sidewalk when they have never had them before,” Speciale said. “People are going to get wiped out their mirrors and everything when the sanitation trucks come by.  The [Department of Transportation] never took any of this into account.”

Local Councilman Alan Maisel said he would champion the effort to revise the city’s controversial scheme, and plans to write a letter to the planning agency to formally request the Department of Design and Constriction head back to the drawing board. 

Gerritsen Beach suffered severe flooding during Superstorm Sandy, which caused widespread damage throughout the neighborhood, which has since been overrun by heavy construction vehicles that have torn up the streets, Mooney said. 

“Another round of trucks is coming, I tell people to take pictures of the foundation on these blocks,” Mooney said.  “People are selling their houses because the work is ridiculous.”

The $26.3 million streetscape upgrade began in Winter 2019 — despite initially being planned in 2013 — and is slated for completion in the winter of 2022. 

The Department of Design and Construction could not immediately respond to comment.