CB 6 wants city to open area streets 1

Community Board 6 Chairwoman Alexa Weitzman, top left, and District Manager Frank Gulluscio, top right, want to see streets in the area opened by the city for pedestrians and bicyclists like others around the city have been.

The city has banned traffic and opened up a handful of streets for pedestrians and bicyclists around the city for social distancing purposes over the past few weeks.

But none of the streets fall within the Community Board 6 area, which covers Forest Hills and Rego Park.

Last Wednesday the board passed a resolution asking the city to include some streets in its jurisdiction.

“What I’m trying to say with this resolution is that we deserve access to safe streets outside,” CB 6 Chairwoman Alexa Weitzman said during the board’s online meeting. “We deserve that just like the rest of the borough does.”

Weitzman noted that the city’s Walk to a Park initiative has a goal of 85 percent of New Yorkers living within walking distance of a park by 2030 and that 79 percent of residents within CB 6 do.

“We really do need this,” she said, noting that playgrounds in the area have closed.

Several stretches of roadway in the borough have been shut down under the city’s new Open Streets initiative from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day with exceptions for deliveries, pickups and drop-offs, “necessary city service vehicles” and emergency vehicles.

Three of them are in Forest Park and one in Flushing Meadows Corona Park, both of which are near Community District 6. Another is in Long Island City.

“Our particular neighborhood has always gotten the short stick, if you will, with a lot of things,” said CB 6 District Manager Frank Gulluscio, who added that being left out “is not acceptable.”

The CB 6 resolution says “community members deserve ample outdoor space to recreate safely while maintaining social distancing” in the very dense area.

While the board originally forwarded 20 suggestions from members to the Department of Transportation, including main streets and side streets, Gulluscio said the new request is not giving the city any specific roadway to consider.

“We’re simply asking them to look at us again,” he said.

Weitzman told the Chronicle Monday the board understands it’s an ongoing program and that the list of suggestions is for the DOT vetting process.

“We just need the relief soon as it’s getting warmer,” she said.

Weitzman also noted many seniors in the community are unable to get to Forest Park and Flushing Meadows Corona Park.

“They need space right where they live,” she said.

Mitch Schwartz, a spokesman for the Mayor’s Office, said the city is still working toward its goal of 40 miles of open streets across all boroughs by the end of the month.

It is now at 30 “and conversations are ongoing with the Council and communities across the city about adding more locations in the coming weeks and months,” he said.

Organizations wishing to have other streets considered for the program can reach out to openstreets@dot.nyc.gov or fill out a survey at surveymonkey.com/r/nycopen streetscommunityrequest.

More information is available by going to nyc.gov/openstreets.com.

“Our parks have played a critical role in maintaining public health during the crisis,” Mayor de Blasio said when the plan was announced. “But we cannot afford to have a high demand for open space to create unhealthy situations.”

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