Unwheely: Civic leaders deny Marine Park car dealer’s parking plan at hostile meeting

Parked: Locals complain Plaza Auto Mall has outgrown their Marine Park home.
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Their parking plan has stalled.

Tensions flared as local civic gurus shot down a Marine Park car dealer’s controversial parking plan on April 17.

Community Board 18 unanimously rejected Plaza Auto Mall’s application for a special permit that would allow the dealer to store cars on the roof of their new Nostrand Avenue building, after a heated discussion between dealership reps and community leaders.

“What has happened here, is that like tentacles, Plaza has reached around and it is strangling our community,” said former State Sen. Carl Kruger.

Kruger, who represented the area before resigning after pleading guilty to a felony bribery scandal, complained that the auto shop, which operates several storefronts between avenues M and N, has caused a variety of problems in the community over the last several months related to ever-increasing footprint in the neighborhood.

“You have cars parked all over the place, it’s a disaster,” he said. “Why aren’t you looking for a bigger facility to meet all of your needs? Why aren’t you looking to have less cars in the area, not more cars? Why aren’t you getting the cars off of the sidewalk and out of the area, so that handicap people can walk on the street? Why aren’t you creating a safe environment for us to live in?”

An attorney with the auto dealer said the rooftop car space was necessary to provide adequate customer parking space.

“We are trying to build a parking area, where a valet will take peoples cars up to the roof, to make the area on the street less crowded,” said Eric Palatnick. “And, the parking area will be surrounded by trees, so you won’t even see a trace of the parking lot.”

Kruger blasted the plan, accusing the dealer of trying to create additional space to store cars to be sold, rather than create more customer parking.

“What you are doing is trying to make a fool out of us,” he said. “You’re trying to come here to figure out a way to store more cars, build a taller building, and inundate the neighborhood with a higher wall. And you think you’re going to come here and buy us off with some shrubbery.”

Plaza Auto Mall had previously stored some cars in the parking lot Kings Plaza shopping mall, until an arsonist set fire to the garage last September.

Another civic leader questioned the legitimacy of Palatnick’s valet parking rhetoric and argued the plan would have an unpleasant effect on the community.

“It sounds to me like they are looking for another space to pour more cars,” said Marine Park Civic Association President Bob Tracey. “Our concern is with the community. You need to get the community on board. First comes the neighborhood, then comes business.”

The dealership has filed a petition with the City Board of Standards & Appeals to overrule the community board, according to Appeals Examiner Toni Matias.

Kruger demanded that the auto shop stop its efforts, and seek other space in a different location.

“There seems to be a disconnect between our community and that dealership,” he said. “You can’t keep squeezing 10 pounds of you-know-what into a five-pound bag.”

Reach reporter Aidan Graham at agraham@schnepsmedia.com or by calling (718) 260–4577. Follow her at twitter.com/aidangraham95.

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