Seven-year-old Alec McFarlane looks at home at the Rosedale Little League field with his teal uniform and black glove.
He plays shortstop just like his idol, Derek Jeter. And like the Yankee captain, it will be a while before Alec can get out on the field and play again.
Unlike Jeter, Alec wasn’t hurt in action on the diamond. He was hit by a car on April 22 while crossing the busy 147th Avenue from the league’s practice facilities in Brookville Park on the north side of the street to the game fields on the south side — a place where parents, elected and community leaders have wanted the city’s Department of Transportation’s help for years.
“We need a crosswalk right here,” Bernie Brown, President of the Rosedale Little League said, pointing to the road by the playing field entrance on 147th Street.
“We need flashing yellow lights in the middle of the block,” she added. “We need Children Crossing signs. I’ve been president of the league for eight years and we began asking the DOT before that. They have these lights and signs in warehouses gathering dust. Alec is one too many child hurt. We don’t want anyone to get killed.”
Alec is in second grade at PS 181, and his favorite class is gym. His uniform cap conceals the four staples that closed a gash in his scalp. And his broad, infectious smile masks the cuts on his face, the pain he still feels in his ribs and head and the fear.
“I was scared,” he said after first being hit.
His mother, Janet Grant, remembers little between receiving the phone call every parent fears and the emergency room doctor’s assurances that Alec was banged up but would be fine.
She pleaded with the DOT on Tuesday.
“Drivers aren’t going to stop or slow down on their own,” she said, waiving her hands at the cars whizzing past in both directions.
“They have no reason to,” she said. “There’s nothing telling them they have to.”
Community Board 13 held its regular meeting the day after Alec got hit, and Board Chairman Bryan Block was livid, pointing out that this was not the only place where the DOT has refused slow zones or traffic control devices in places that subsequently had serious — sometimes fatal — accidents.
Councilman Donovan Richards (D-Laurelton), who met Alec and his mother at the field on Tuesday, said it all usually comes down to federal guidelines that the city uses to dictate where stop signs, traffic lights and other traffic calming measures should be.
“Take slow zones,” Richards said. “Between the Council office, the league, the community board, the civics and others, we’ve asked for 50 slow zones. They don’t seem to have trouble getting them in Northern Queens, but all of ours in Southern Queens have been denied.”
He and Brown believe the DOT may monitor the area at times of day or times of year when the parks that straddle the street are not at maximum use, such as late mornings and early afternoons when people are at work, or when Little League is not in season.
Richards admitted he was stumped when asked what DOT engineers know about local traffic conditions that residents don’t.
Brown was not. She showed a list of 70 parents who have complained repeatedly to 311.
And she said the calls for DOT action is no longer a request.
“We are demanding this,” she said. “We know numbers. We have 200 players ... and up to 400 people at this park. This is a busy street ... And we’re going to keep calling until we get those lights and signs.”