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Sidewalk wars: Transit agency ignoring parents’ concerns over ‘death trap’ gas station, locals say

Death trap: Local parent Arsenia Reilly calls the Speedway gas station at Fourth Avenue between 30th and 31st streets a “death trap” for locals and children — including her son, Duncan — due to its lack of pavement markings, sidewalk barriers, and signage designating the elementary school that’s only a block away.
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Their absence added fuel to these parents’ ire.

City transit honchos were a no-show at a meeting about safety plans for the Fourth Avenue “death trap” gas station just a block from an elementary school in Sunset Park, and the Department of Transportation is keeping locals in the dark, said one parent at the Feb. 9 meeting at PS 172.

“It’s easy for the [Department of Transportation] to duck and hide when nobody’s holding them accountable and responsible to the parents,” said Arsenia Reilly-Collins, who lives on 31st Street. “We have no idea what their design plan is. How do they do that with no parent involvement?”

The agency didn’t send a representative to the meeting at PS 172, but called its principal Jack Spatola beforehand to tell him it was drafting a safety-design plan to prevent motorists from illegally driving and reversing onto the unmarked sidewalks in order to reach gas pumps at the Speedway station between 30th and 31st streets, according to Spatola.

Two other parents at the meeting echoed Reilly-Collins’ concerns while outlining the traffic dangers before Spatola, a Speedway attorney, Assemblyman Felix Ortiz, two officers from the local police precinct, and a rep for Councilman Carlos Menchaca (D–Sunset Park). But re-hashing their worries was useless without a rep from the transportation agency there to hear them, according to the parents and Ortiz, who also accused the city of deliberately ignoring the community in the planning process.

“We are being kept out of this,” he said.

In a story this newspaper’s sister publication, the Bay Ridge Courier, broke earlier this month, Reilly-Collins and other concerned parents called for permanent bollards, barriers, or at least clear pavement markings designating where the gas station lot ends and the sidewalk along Fourth Avenue begins. Spatola called for more “school zone” signs in a two-block radius around the learning house, as well as a crossing guard with extended hours and a second guard on 31st Street.

But the transportation agency did not even take the initiative to install temporary, stop-gap safety measures while formulating a longer-term plan for the station, attendees complained. Instead, the police department installed short-term plastic barriers after this reporter called with questions about the safety issues. But the parents said those barriers are too flimsy, and that they’ve even seen cars crash into and drag them.

“The police should be doing other things, but they have to focus on this, because the [transportation agency] is punting it around,” Reilly-Collins said.

A spokeswoman for the agency said a rep was not at the meeting due to last-minute schedule changes, and said that it is drafting design options for the gas station that officials will review with the facility’s owners. Speedway reps are working to set a meeting with the transportation agency for the near future, according to a company spokeswoman.

But the parents said they have no plans of backing down. Reilly-Collins started a Change.org petition calling for temporary stop-gap measures and a meeting with the Department of Transportation, which more than 420 people signed. And another parent said she will never give up fighting, because children’s lives are at risk.

“I’ve seen things that make your skin crawl — on a regular basis, people jumping out of the way with their children,” said Isabel Draves, a mother of three who lives on 32nd Street. “If something happens to a kid here, I will never let it drop.”

Reach reporter Julianne McShane at (718) 260–2523 or by e-mail at jmcshane@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @juliannemcshane.
Updated 5:49 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Fred from Windsor Terrace says:
These parents need to make a sizable contribution to DeBlasio or one of his PACs. Then they will be treated with respect.
Feb. 16, 7:18 am
Henry Ford from Bay Ridge says:
This is exactly how the city should treat every attention seeking wannabe media star. Tell them to go play in traffic and then ignore their deranged asses.
Feb. 16, 10:47 am
Homey from Crooklyn says:
LOL the hipsters bumped off Swamp Yankee
Feb. 16, 3:39 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
What sidewalk markings are they talking about? According to that picture, there is a marking to where the curb cut is for that gas station. I feel that the main problem is that parents aren't watching their kids much and they are blaming just about everyone but themselves for that. Even if better markings were placed, you would still have those who aren't looking that much. I wouldn't be surprised if that mother and child were paid by Transportation Alternatives, who is known for having an anti-car bias, to place a thumbs down for this.
Feb. 17, 5:40 pm
Chaim Hildesheim from Boro Park says:
Can't wait for a developer to buy the property and make it into housing units.
Feb. 25, 11 am
Alan from Crown Heights says:
Surprisingly for a gas station in Brooklyn, there's no CRE listing for the lot. But here's a similar auto-oriented retail site that will hopefully bite the dust soon:
http://www.loopnet.com/Listing/747-4th-Ave-Brooklyn-NY/10964286/
Feb. 27, 2:11 pm

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