One winter Sunday my fellow columnist Carmine Santa Maria phoned and left a message for me to meet him three blocks away from my house, but it was too late, because we had already left home with theater tickets.
Carmine, president of Bensonhurst West End Community Council, was acting quickly to amass a protest against a new concept that our very unresponsive city government was inflicting in mid-Bensonhurst — a plan to chop up automotive visibility on our over-burdened streets.
In Bensonhurst, drivers returning from work circle for hours seeking a legal parking spot before they can eat supper and go to sleep.
“Why don’t they leave their cars home and ride our subways,” our mayor asks. Easy for him to say, because he’s the same Mike Bloomberg who makes millions writing summonses on his four-day alternative side parking regulations — which we have to deal with if we choose to leave our buggy at home.
The protest went forward, but the city was deaf to criticism. For the past three years, we have tried in vain to correct a terrible faux pas on Bay Parkway where improperly hung big, bold street corner signs, high above normal corner signs, block views. On top of that, the signs are unreadable to busy motorists because they are too small for wide Bay Parkway and because they are not printed in reasonable tones. W. Sixth Street’s intersection at Kings Highway, where Carmine protested, has just one lane of traffic in each direction, plus a curb parking lane. The city erased the double center-lanes and cemented new center malls, with a giant flower pot at each corner, plus some wide beds of grass and bramble in the center strip where the hapless pedestrians should be able to find mid-road safety — if they can live through the crossing.
Two weeks after Carmine’s protest, we were stuck in a line of traffic backed-up on that same W. Sixth Street about four car lengths behind Kings Highway when we noticed the new tall, wild grass growing out of this new road-block. We could not see the wide street ahead or a youth was crossing when the light turned green.
Fortunately, our call to CB11 district manager Marnee Elias-Pavia did get action. The wild grass was removed and the bed was cemented.
But very tragically, that same type of center-mall made the headlines in Manhattan Beach when a youngster who was crossing the street was hit and killed by a bus driver combatting that same type of hazard devised by a city that doesn’t realize safety starts with visibility.
This administration cares more about bringing visitors to busy Times Square to sit on the most expensive gutters in the world, but rarely heeds the cries for help from those of us who dare to care.
It took us nearly four years, in vain, to have one streetlight bulb replaced at a major entrance to the Belt Parkway and on the Coney Island Avenue entrance to westbound Belt Parkway, five of the seven entrance lights were out for three years. In spite of our repeated calls. None were replaced until that politicians’ wife, Iris Weinshall, retired from her Bloomberg appointment.
We the people must swim in these political mires and seek to survive unless we can shout loud enough in the proper eardrums who do not react until a tragedy is borne by we-the-people.
Poor children. Poor parents.