Bay Ridge residents are lashing out against Xaverian High School for taking away several precious parking spots near 71st Street and Shore Road to put in a loading zone for school buses, but the Catholic high school’s president said the street changes came from a higher power — the city of New York.
The Department of Transportation installed no parking signs near the corner over the weekend in order to open up enough space to load and unload school buses when classes begin in September, enraging neighbors who say they will sue the city if the signs aren’t removed.
“If Transportation thinks they can take public land and give it to a private religious institution, they’ve got another thing coming,” said Allen Bortnick, who lives at the corner of 72nd Street and Shore Road and is so desperate for a place to park his 1997 Crown Victoria that he asked the city if he could rent the spot in front of his apartment. “I have a right to park there. They do not have a right to tell me I can’t park there.”
Other parking-spot strapped residents say Xaverian thumbed its nose at its neighbors when the no parking signs were put in.
“This is their declaration of war,” said former Bay Ridge democratic district leader Ralph Perfetto, who said he would join a lawsuit and happily sign the petition Bortnick is circulating demanding that the no parking signs be removed. “So we’re going to war with them.”
Other neighbors said that removing parking spots was the worst thing one can do in Bay Ridge.
“It’s going to be impossible to live here,” said resident Debbie Guerriero. “I pay $1,700 a month in maintenance and I cannot park.”
Yet Xaverian president Robert Alesi claims he never asked the city for the signs.
“The Department of Transportation was the one that initiated this,” said Alesi, who claimed that the city began studying the corner after a car struck a student as he crossed Shore Road to get to a school bus. The student wasn’t seriously harmed. “They thought there was a real safety concern for kids at dismissal and we agreed.”
Alesi said that he and Xaverian’s administration wanted a traffic light installed at the corner of Shore Road and 71st Street, but were given a school bus loading zone instead.
But the city doesn’t remember its conversation with the school the same way: a Department of Transportation spokesman said the agency put in the no parking signs “in response to a request from school representatives.”
Neighbors say they’ve been pushing the school to build a two-story garage in the back of the school that would accommodate parents, teachers, and school buses.
“If they are so desperate for parking, let them build a second floor onto their parking lot with ramps,” said Bortnick. “They’re a big-shot school, they have the money.”