Community leaders and residents of the Queensboro Hill neighborhood of Flushing are fuming that the Department of Transportation won’t install loading zones on 60th Avenue to prevent accidents and traffic jams near a supermarket.
The supermarket, Zhong Hua, is located at 59-11 Main St., and its parking lot is behind the store on 142nd St., between 59th and 60th avenues. Deliverers do not like to unload goods in the narrow parking lot because it’s hard for them to maneuver there while shoppers say it’s unsafe and that the large vehicles take up too much space.
Don Capalbi, president of the Queensboro Hill Neighborhood Association, has been pushing for the city to install loading zone signs and was angered to learn last Thursday that the DOT had nixed the idea.
Dalila Hall, representing the DOT, spoke at that day’s Community Board 7 district cabinet meeting, held at the Queens Botanical Garden, which Capalbi attended. Hall indicated that the agency had turned down the request because trucks could unload in the supermarket’s parking lot.
“This is alien to reality,” Capalbi said. “The parking lot becomes unusable for shoppers and the suppliers don’t want to go in the lot.”
He added that the supermarket owner also favors adding loading zone signs on the side street, which would be situated next to businesses, not houses.
“We want it, the community board wants it and the store owner wants it,” Capalbi said. “Only the DOT doesn’t think it’s necessary.”
He added that the merchant has been a good neighbor, but that filling the parking lot with trucks eliminates 40 percent of the spaces for shoppers.
CB 7 District Manager Marilyn Bitterman, who also wants the loading zone, asked the 109th Precinct to enforce traffic rules and issue tickets to trucks that double park. Residents consider it a safety issue and Capalbi believes the simple solution would be to install the signs that restrict parking to delivery trucks during daytime hours.
Following a heated discussion between CB 7 Chairman Gene Kelty, Capalbi and Hall, the civic leader said: “Some might say that city agencies are arrogant. Do their traffic engineers know better than anyone else?”
Kelty and Bitterman complained that Manhattan gets preferential treatment with street signs, which Hall denied. She also asked Kelty to lower his voice, which he denied was raised.
“We always get put on the back burner,” Kelty said after the meeting. “Manhattan gets whatever it wants.”
Bitterman is frustrated because she brought the issue to the attention of the DOT last April with an on-site visit. She said it would be to everyone’s advantage for the agency to erect a couple of loading zone signs that would be in effect from 8 a.m. to 4 or 6 p.m.
“Baby carriages have to go in the middle of the street now because of the trucks,” the district manager said.