Author Topic: Nicely written letter on Open Streets point of view  (Read 754 times)

Offline itsit

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Nicely written letter on Open Streets point of view
« on: July 18, 2021, 02:53:15 PM »
 This letter was posted on another site and said to be taken down. I thought it was so well written that it should be seen by others in the neighborhood and am taking the liberty of copying it here. Author is Joseph de S. and I believe it went to a couple of sites like TransAlt and something on OS FB.

 “It should be noted the the author is the admin/moderator of a FB page that is ostensibly for all residents of Jackson Heights, yet posts that are even mildly critical of OS on 34th Ave are routinely deleted, and those authors are often time blocked from posting at all.
What is also missing from this opinion piece is what the leaflets looked like. They were nothing like the official leaflets that one would expect to see announcing “no parking” due to filming, road repairs, utility work, etc.. They looked (and apparently were) leaflets printed on a copier without any indication this was a permitted/approved road closure. Having had other leaflets posted by those running 34th Ave OS that were not permitted/approved, residents were right to be wary. There was NO concerted effort to “ruin daycamp” - a post was made on a few JH pages questioning the legitimacy of the leaflets. When the handmade efforts were replaced with official leaflets, residents complied.
What is also missing from this piece, (and the coverage of 34th Ave OS on Streetsblog, and other media), is that fact the those of us who “oppose OS” are not opposing the concept of OS but rather how it has been, and is being implemented on 34th Ave. Many of us have repeatedly stated this in communications with DOT, elected officials, the various FB pages dedicated to Jackson Heights, as well as with our neighbors, and friends in JH. But that doesn’t fit with the narrative I suppose.
What has always been advocated is compromises like:
• seasonal open streets - with more, and more adults returning to their offices, and children returning to school, why continue to close 34th Ave 12 hours a day, 7 days a week? Seasonal
OS (ie; Memorial to Labor days) makes more sense.
• banning electric scooters, bikes, Vespas, etc. from OS - the riders barely, if ever, obey any rules, exceed the 5 MPH limit by many times, swerve around pedestrians at high speed, do not heed the red lights for North or South bound traffic, and have proven in JH, and other OS areas around the city to be dangerous, causing injuries, even death.
• no vendors - there has always been an ice cream truck, and pushcart vendors around Travers Park for decades. That makes sense. But with 34th Ave OS, there has been an explosion of unlicensed vendors setting up shop on the medians selling everything from food, drinks, housewares, jewellery, clothing, toys, etc.. It must be remembered that 34th Ave is a residential street - the entire area under OS is made up of residential apartment buildings, schools, and a church. The only commercial businesses on 34th Ave are the 3 located right off the BQE at 70th thru 69th streets, and the parking lot for the supermarket at Junction. The vendors not only destroy the plantings in the median that so many enjoy, but are a nuisance to 34th Ave residents that they shouldn’t have to put up with.
• parades - no parades on 34th (with the median, they wouldn’t work anyway), but when 37th Ave or Northern Blvd are closed to traffic for the many parades we have in JH, 34th Ave should be opened to traffic to ease congestion in JH.
• trash - with OS there have two things that have increased on 34th Ave - trash, and dog droppings; both on the street, and the medians. While many of the maintenance workers in the buildings on 34th do their best to clean up what they can, the trash does attract more vermin to 34th Ave. which is not desirable no matter where you stand on OS.
• no cookouts/parties - both last summer, and this summer, we’ve seen individual families, and groups block off sections to hold private cookouts/parties. BBQs, beach/lawn chairs, tables, coolers, amplified music. Again, no matter where you stand on OS, you would agree this is not only inappropriate, against the concept of OS, but again it creates huge nuisances for the residents of 34th Ave.
• questionable activities on 34th - whether it’s salsa lessons, Zumba classes, concerts, religious gatherings, and yes, “daycamps” - it’s not an appropriate use. There are 8 parks/playgrounds within walking distance of 34th Ave that can, and should be used for these activities, not the street. Yet, many of the playgrounds remain locked up, unused - why is no one advocating for their use for some of these activities?
No one I know of is JH is opposed to Fresh Air Fund daycamps. Many of us attended them when we were young. We do question why they are now taking place on asphalt. In addition to the 8 parks/playgrounds that would be more appropriate to use, JH is about 15 mins away from 800 acres of real parkland with trees, grass, sports fields - surely any of these would be safer, and offer more fun/activities for children. Yes, we played in the street growing up, we yelled “car!” to clear the street when one came, but our daycamp was never on the street. To many of us, it just makes no sense, which is why we’ve been questioning the rationale behind it.
A few short years ago, many parents bemoaned the lack of greenspace in JH, yet now it’s perfectly fine to have children attending a “daycamp” on asphalt in 90F+ weather.
To listen to those in favor of OS, you’d think there was no where else for residents to jog, walk, ride bikes other than 34th Ave OS. Make mention of the difficulties the elderly, and handicapped have encountered, and they’re “poo-poo’d” away. To question OS is to be labeled as “selfish”.
There are real, legitimate concerns that residents have about how 34th OS has been/is being implemented. There needs to be discussion, review, and compromise by all in order to get to a place where both sides of OS can be satisfied.”

Offline worldwidedeb

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Re: Nicely written letter on Open Streets point of view
« Reply #1 on: July 18, 2021, 08:12:35 PM »
Thank you for posting this.

Offline JHResident

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Re: Nicely written letter on Open Streets point of view
« Reply #2 on: July 18, 2021, 08:38:24 PM »
Well written list of many of the issues that should be addressed, even if all are not implemented. I would also like to see the issue of enforcement addressed. We can't expect volunteers to police speeding vehicles like scooters, electric bikes and others that routinely ignore the 5 mph speed restriction. An occasional visit from the precinct would help. Maybe all bicycles should be banned during these hours?

Offline dssjh

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Re: Nicely written letter on Open Streets point of view
« Reply #3 on: July 18, 2021, 09:24:57 PM »
i don't know about "all," but i think all motorized/electric vehicles should be reined in more, if not relegated to the same hours as cars.

Offline CaptainFlannel

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Re: Nicely written letter on Open Streets point of view
« Reply #4 on: July 22, 2021, 04:57:30 PM »
those of us who “oppose OS” are not opposing the concept of OS but rather how it has been, and is being implemented on 34th Ave. Many of us have repeatedly stated this in communications with DOT, elected officials, the various FB pages dedicated.

Many of us remember that the leaders of both the Compromise group and now the Resisters group argued against Open Streets with "roads are for cars! Period!"

I think the criticism of Jacob White and other moderators of the 11372 group is fair. Little to no feedback is given to users and they mute critics of open streets for posting "you are incorrect." Meanwhile, they ignore deliberate and constant trolling - physical threats, sealion tactics, constant rudeness by some users when others disagree with them. Community management is work, and part of the work is providing feedback to users so they can shape up. However, moderators can moderate their group how they would like, no matter how unfair and biased. 

The Compromise petition is a combination of: clearly stated goals (reduce the hours, shorten the length of OS), misinformation (vendors, the incorrect claim that volunteers are personally benefiting financially); common sense proposals the Compromise leaders seem to think they thought up yet what everyone, including the most ardent OS supporters have been advocating for (better barricades); proposals that make no sense (NYPD & DOT to run the program. Hello! We had that as a pilot program in March 2020 and it didn't work! The Coalition came together to make OS work.) and specific design plans that may or may not be viable.

A better call if you like Open Streets is this:

We support engaging with the community for design input.

We support:

creating the maximum amount of new green space

maximizing safety

providing access to existing driveways and garages

facilitating access for emergency vehicles, delivery, city services, and school buses

accommodating people with disabilities, including Access-A-Ride 

expanding space for public schools to use for programs

reducing conflict between pedestrians, cyclists, and motorists

Offline CaptainFlannel

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Re: Nicely written letter on Open Streets point of view
« Reply #5 on: July 22, 2021, 05:02:46 PM »
And just to be clear, here is what the Compromise petition consists of (holy cow, I can't believe someone posted they wanted it to only be run Memorial Day through Labor Day).

Some of the compromises that could make the situation better for everyone are:

● Operating hours to be adjusted. The Open Streets have high activity hours, but for most of the day, they are not being used much. Sidewalks are always available, and with a bike lane, there should be no need for a two-sided avenue to be blocked. There are also certain hours of high vehicular congestion in the adjacent roads, that could be relieved by having 34th Ave. accessible.

● Length of the Open Streets to be minimized. Most Open Streets are only a small fraction of what 34th Avenue is. This is a residential area, and determining which zones are used most, and only using those for the program, could make it better for others.

● Merchants to not be allowed to operate on OS. They could be in a designated area, possibly a nearby park. They have been setting up in the median or in the street itself, the numbers of merchants grow more, and the road is supposed to be available for first responders, and official vehicles. This is a very important safety matter for our residents.

● Social Activities made by volunteers to be limited to the parks for safety & noise pollution reasons.

● Avoid added noise pollution.

● Local traffic to be allowed on one side of the avenue with flowing traffic to alleviate vehicular congestion & be able to access the residents in the area.

● Another survey to be conducted for a better understanding of how OS affects the residents of the avenue itself. They are the ones directly affected by this program and should have a say in it. This should be accompanied by a meeting with the DOT where residents can express their concerns.

● A study to be made of the effects on property value & for that information to be provided to residents.

● Barriers to be within ADA code & other safety regulations.

● Program to ensure that Open Streets are going to be kept clean.

● On parade dates suspending Open Streets to avoid mass congestion.

● Inclement weather to be considered to suspend Open Streets due to lack of use.

● Community involvement in decision-making, other than the coalition.

● Volunteers do not take donations or benefit economically from OS (as they currently do). This includes no newsletters on the barriers. They should stay for DOT official information on OS only. No advertising of any sort.

● For DOT or NYPD to handle the program in 34th Ave as the coalition has proven they do not have the best interest of the neighborhood, but those of their own organization.

Jackson Heights Life

Re: Nicely written letter on Open Streets point of view
« Reply #5 on: July 22, 2021, 05:02:46 PM »