Stakeholders agree to plaza work deal 1

Hard at work are these employees digging up underground infrastructure on Wednesday near the corner of Myrtle and Cooper avenues, where the city is planning a pedestrian plaza. The construction has negatively impacted area businesses.

The city, area elected officials and community leaders have reached a deal they hope will alleviate some of the burden pedestrian plaza work had placed on a number of Glendale businesses.

According to Department of Design and Construction representative Ian Michaels and Community Board 5 Chairman Vincent Arcuri Jr., the project at Myrtle and Cooper avenues hit a snag recently, as it was discovered underground Verizon infrastructure had to be moved in order for the project to continue.

But even before the issue with Verizon occurred, a number of area stores had said the restricting of traffic flow and the loss of parking in the area was resulting in declines in sales and customers.

To address the issue, the DDC, CB 5, the Department of Transportation, the 104th Precinct and staffers for Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Glendale) and Assemblyman Mike Miller (D-Woodhaven) gathered last week to brainstorm ways to at least partially lift the burden on business.

The result has been to extend weekday work hours on Tuesday by three hours from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., suspend alternative side parking from 68th to 72nd streets and request an NYPD traffic agent be posted at the site.

But according to Michaels, the city had asked Verizon “several times” to dig up and relocate their underground infrastructure at night instead of during the day, when businesses are open.

“We instructed Verizon to go in there and relocate the wires under that area so we could come in and install water mains,” Michaels said. “Verizon started doing that work a few weeks ago during the day. We requested several times that they work at night and they refused to do so.”

The DDC representative added that Verizon eventually agreed to work extended daytime hours in order to complete the project as quickly as possible, most likely by May.

However, a Verizon spokesman denied the DDC’s “puzzling” claims on Wednesday, saying that the agency, not the communications giant, has contracted the work out.

“I’m not sure why the city keeps saying we declined their request to work at night. First off, Verizon is not performing any of this work at all,” the spokesman said in an email to the Chronicle. “Any time there is a city project where Verizon infrastructure needs to be moved out of the way, by rule, we are required to pay the city to perform this work. The DDC hires their own contractor to do this — no Verizon workers are involved at all — and we foot the bill.

“Second, the scheduling and timing of this work is entirely at the DDC’s discretion,” the spokesperson added. “So it is up to them when and how the work the gets done.”

Crowley said in a Tuesday statement that she was hopeful the new plan would more quickly bring to an end the inconvenience the construction brings to area businesses.

“Construction along Myrtle Avenue has undoubtedly impacted these stores,” Crowley said, “but I am encouraged by various agencies and community leaders getting involved to amend the issue.”

Joe Valvo, the owner of Glendale Bagels at 69-35 Myrtle Ave., one of the business owners who has been most negatively impacted, was not available for an interview.

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