Inez Hawkins, president of the PTA at PS 52 in Springfield Gardens, had a direct message for the NYPD and the city Department of Transportation at a community meeting on Tuesday.
“We don’t want our children getting killed,” she said.
The meeting, organized by the office of Councilman Donovan Richards (D-Laurelton), took place at IS 231 in Springfield Gardens. Richards has made speeding issues within the community a high priority since taking office, and he had representatives from the DOT and 105th Precinct on hand to field questions and take information on complaints about specific stretches of road.
A major topic for the evening was 147th Avenue from Farmers Boulevard in Springfield Gardens to Francis Lewis Boulevard in Rosedale.
Richards three weeks ago led a small rally at the Rosedale Little League complex that sits astride the road, where a child was struck by a car — a site where Little League officials have been asking the DOT to place lines, signs, flashing lights or other traffic-calming measures without success for more than eight years.
“One year I saw DOT people doing their surveys in August, after the Little League season,” said League president Bernie Brown. “Surveys aren’t enough when children are being hit by cars.”
Al Silvestri of the DOT said there is another study going on there now, and Richards said they were able to bypass the normal requirement to wait 18 months before a new survey.
Silvestri said lights, signs, speed bumps and other traffic-calming measures must fall under federal guidelines before they can be installed.
Slow zones, in which whole areas have reduced speed limits, daylighted intersections and massive amounts of signage, must be over large areas rather than just one road.
Richards said he had his fill of DOT slow zone applications from his days working for his predecessor, former councilman and now state Sen. James Sanders (D-Jamaica).
“The office applied for 50 slow zones,” Richards said. “We didn’t get one.”
Hugh Wilson of Laurelton said drivers from Conduit Avenue and the Belt Parkway use 147th as a bypass when the main roads are congested.
“They know they have about three miles where there are about two traffic lights,” he said. “And there are no yellow dividing lines, sometimes they form two lanes.” Or three.
“Put police officers there and you can catch all the speeders you want all day,” Wilson told Detective Jovoda Cooper, the Community Affairs officer for the 105th Precinct.
Virgil McWright of Springfield Gardens said similar conditions exist on 184th Street.
Hawkins said some of the primary offenders are illegal so-called “dollar vans” that speed past the school, sometimes taking car mirrors off the sides of teachers’ vehicles.
Cooper said they can and do crack down on the illegal vans, but must witness any incidents to stop them.
“When we stop illegal vans, we seize them, and that hurts the operators in the pocketbook,” Cooper said. “But once we get about three, they are all on their radios telling everyone else to stay away from that area.”