Somebody call the cops!
The manager of Community Board 6 fears the panel will need police protection when angry Park Slopers converge on an upcoming emergency meeting to discuss controversial new Citi Bike stations that are taking up precious parking spaces in the area, and may ensure New York’s Finest are on hand to maintain the order that was missing at the board’s Sept. 14 gathering — when an angry mob demanded something be done about the unwanted bike racks that suddenly appeared on neighborhood streets.
Citi Bike wasn’t on the agenda for Community Board 6’s meeting last week, but that didn’t stop a host of nearly two dozen disgruntled residents from attempting to derail the board’s pre-scheduled program to discuss the bike-rental program that was now taking up space in front of some residents’ homes.
Now, one of the board’s leaders says a new meeting to discuss the matter is on the horizon, and the boys in blue may be there to keep angry residents in line.
“Anytime you expect that many people to turn out on an issue that’s likely to be somewhat controversial, you have to plan for it,” said Community Board 6 district manager Craig Hammerman. “It would be irresponsible not to.”
Foremost among the Citi Bike haters at last week’s meeting was Joseph Igneri, an 80-year-old Cobble Hill resident who was asked to leave the meeting after launching into an angry tirade, screaming into the faces of the board’s leadership.
“There’s no bike stand in front of your house, right?” Igneri yelled as he approached community board chairwoman Sayar Lonial before moving on to Hammerman. “Is there a bike stand in front of your house? Why won’t you answer?”
The meeting ultimately got back on track after Lonial informed those bike haters present that discussion of any item not on the agenda would not be tolerated, although he assured the crowd that the board would address the bike racks at the board’s Transportation Committee meeting in October.
The board is currently working with Department of Transportation to schedule a time and place to discuss Citi Bike, according to Hammerman.
Meanwhile, lines are being drawn in the preverbal sand between local bike-loving and bike-hating factions.
The board has been flooded with messages from locals wanting to share their love of the bike-rental program, largely in response to Igneri’s tirade — and the video of it that has gone viral since the meeting, according to Hammerman.
Pro-bike group Transportation Alternatives says it is sending out an e-mail blast to local members alerting them to the community board’s Citi Bike meeting once it’s scheduled, in hopes of ensuring a cadre of bike lovers show up to oppose the haters, according to the organization’s deputy director.
“We have a large membership and supporter base, something like 150,000 New Yorkers that care about safe street issues and whenever there’s a topic on a community board agenda related to safe streets and bikes, we as a courtesy let our membership know about,” said Caroline Samponaro.
And there to greet them, of course, will be the cops.
It wouldn’t be the first time the NYPD showed up at a Community Board 6 meeting that had the chance of breaking out into a hockey game, Hammerman noted. In fact, in the not-too-distant past, security was on hand to make sure things didn’t get out of order.
“When we were hosting meetings to discuss the Barclays Center, ground rules were stated up front and we had a police presence,” he said.