Warmer days are here and begging to be spent strolling, shopping and eating through Whitestone’s plentiful small businesses along 150th Street and its nearby side roads.
Well, good luck finding a parking spot.
The commercial corridor has been plagued by a Postal Service vehicle takeover for the past several years — during morning and loading hours each day, numerous trucks take up the metered spots along the Cross Island Parkway service road, block fire hydrants and force the Q76 to pick up passengers from the middle of the road.
The morning of April 3, the day before Easter and the last day of Passover, was no exception. Over a dozen trucks lined the service road, with one even double-parked. Several curved around the 150th Road corner, inhibiting sight lines for other drivers. USPS vehicles that were parked inside the agency’s small on-campus lot backed into the road, despite having no rear windows and having stickers on their dashboards clearly prohibiting driving in reverse.
“The restaurants are just starting to open up again, to get people in here. There’s no parking spaces for anybody to use,” said Kim Cody, the president of the Greater Whitestone Taxpayers Civic Association.
The 14-44 150 St. post office lies adjacent to a Walgreens parking lot, where USPS employees often park their cars before hopping into their mail-carrying vehicles. The congestion alleviates when employees are out delivering packages, Cody said, but returns at the end of the work day. The vehicles are often left on the road overnight.
The issue began in 2017. Cody and wife Marlene teamed up with Community Board 7 and a representative from Rep. Tom Suozzi’s (D-Suffolk, Nassau, Queens) office to strike a deal with the USPS. A compromise was never achieved and the coalition fizzled out. The community’s aggravation remained.
“We don’t need somebody taking the parking spots away from us,” CB 7 Chairperson Gene Kelty said. The former FDNY firefighter pointed out while the USPS vehicles are legally obligated to follow the same traffic rules as private cars, there are little repercussions for those who ignore the regulations — city agencies cannot give violations to federal vehicles. “If they were getting summonses like UPS they wouldn’t do this.”
The issue goes beyond inconvenience — small business owners worry the lack of parking will divert customers to other neighborhoods. It could be detrimental for stores like Christina’s Deli, which customers rely on for in-and-out service, the manager said.
For the Codys and Kelty, the solution is simple: Stash employees’ private cars and postal trucks at the USPS Processing and Distribution center on 20th Avenue and the Van Wyck Expressway service road, located just over a mile away.
“The employees can go over there, park their cars, pick up their trucks and come over here. But they’re refusing to do that,” Cody said.
A spokesperson for the USPS told the Chronicle that the agency is in the final stages of securing a negotiation with an area vendor who would provide parking. A timetable for the partnership is not available at this time, she said.
According to the USPS, the substantial increase in package deliveries during the pandemic has driven its heavy presence on city streets.