Previously, parking was not allowed from 7 to 10 a.m. and 4 to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Only buses and cars making right turns were allowed in the lane designated for the Q52 and Q53 SBS route.
However, last Thursday State Senator Joe Addabbo and Assemblywoman Stacey Pheffer Amato visited C-Town Supermarket at 107-66 Cross Bay Boulevard in Ozone Park, where they announced that motorists will be allowed to park inn the SBS lane all day on Saturdays.
Parking will be allowed on both sides of the boulevard.
“So many people say we can’t fight or nothing’s going to change, but here businesses and residents spoke out since the very beginning and we got some change,” Addabbo said. “To get parking back is big for the customers in this community.”
The change came after months of complaints from local business owners, who said their bottom lines had been negatively affected by the loss of parking spots.
“At least now on Saturday mornings, people can park in front of the stores and do some shopping,” said Pheffer Amato. “During the week, people can’t park in front and it’s hurting our small businesses, but we feel that this is one step towards the change to help the local community.”
Addabbo also pointed out that certain turns in commercial corridors were reinstated, and ticket kiosks that were originally placed in the middle of the sidewalk was moved closer to the side.
But there is still more work to be done on adjusting the SBS restrictions, the elected officials said.
C-Town owners Rose and Frank Chimienti said their store lost at least 10 percent of its business since the SBS route was put in place in November.
The store has been in their family for over 40 years, and about a year and a half ago they remodeled. Rose said they did the remodel without realizing they had to worry about a potential drop in sales.
“It helps a little bit, although it’s not going to alleviate what we’ve lost,” Frank said.
The couple would like to see further changes during the weekday rush hours.
“It’s my busiest time of day when people are coming home from work, and when they are driving by and they don’t see parking, they are not going to stop because I don’t have the luxury of a parking lot,” he said. “I only have five or six spots, and taking that away for three or four hours, do the math, it adds up real quick.”
Rose added that mothers picking up their children from after-school activities often stop by the store before going home to cook, but it’s been harder to do so with the parking restrictions.
Frank also argued that the buses often drive in a different lane because they are too big to be that close to the curb.
“If someone from the city were to stand outside and watch the bus lanes from 4 to 7 p.m. during the week, I guarantee you nine times out of ten the buses are not in that bus lane,” he said.
“Taking away parking is very crucial, at least consider adding additional parking nearby and adding signs to make people aware of the available parking on the other streets,” Rose said. “If people can’t find parking from 4 to 7 p.m., they’re going to go to the next guy.”