CB9 was scheduled to vote at its Tuesday night meeting on the Department of Transportation’s plan to change 84th Street from one-way northbound to one-way southbound from Liberty to Atlantic Avenues and convert 89th Avenue from a two-way to a one-way street running eastbound between Woodhaven Boulevard and 97th Street.
However, the vote was tabled and CB9 officials have postponed their decision following outcry from residents, who had Assemblyman Mike Miller to back them up as he also spoke out against the changes. Woodhaven Residents' Block Association President Ed Wendell circulated letters last week around the neighborhood, urging residents to voice their opinion.
In a letter published by Wendell in last week's Leader/Observer, he wrote, “if you are coming home from Howard Beach or Ozone Park and Woodhaven Boulevard is congested or closed due to an accident, how will you cross Atlantic into Woodhaven?
“Simply put, you can't keep closing access points to a community,” he continued. “It was bad enough when they closed the northbound entrance at 87th Street. Closing 84th Street was a plan designed to drive Woodhaven drivers batty.”
Although the 91st Street conversion is drawing less ire, some residents are concerned with the effects it will have on school buses, since two grammar schools are nearby – P.S. 60 and St. Thomas the Apostle.
Diane Yodice has lived down the block on 84th Street and 91st Avenue for the last 30 years.
“I can't imagine how the buses are going to get through,” she said. “And we already have two streets running southbound – 82nd and 94th streets. It's extremely unfair to take away our one direct northbound street.”
Many residents are also concerned with how the conversions will affect emergency services. A study was done by DOT, but Wendell said he never received the results.
“I was used to it when it was a two-way street, then I had to get used to it after it was converted to a southbound street, but now you're going to turn around and change it the other way,” said resident Lisa Shepkie. “Why? Why are you going to take away the one street that gets you directly to Woodhaven?”
Alex Glatt, another Woodhaven resident, echoed the same sentiments. “I found out online that this was happening,” he said.
A number of residents said they had not been notified of the change and found out about it only days before what was to be Tuesday’s vote. But CB9 Chairwoman Andrea Crawford said board officials sent out numerous mailings to individuals in the neighborhood. She also stressed that the community board did not ask for the street changes, but that it is a city proposal.
“This board, this staff is very diligent in sending out notices about neighborhood or community changes,” Crawford told attendees.
She urged residents to attend the February 1st public forum that Queens Transportation Commissioner Maura McCarthy has scheduled at St. Elizabeth’s Church in Ozone Park.