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Queens Chronicle

Relief in Willets Pt. as roads repaved

A more comprehensive repair project slated for Queens industrial area

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Posted: Thursday, September 5, 2019 10:30 am

A & D Used Auto Parts & Cars owner Sam Sambucci has been going to meetings about Willets Point for five years, always urging city officials to repave the industrial area’s extremely dilapidated roads.

So, when he finally saw some results last month, with three large chunks of roadway getting resurfaced, he was stunned by how fast the city did the work.

“They paved it in 12 hours,” he said.

The city resurfaced Willets Point Boulevard between 37th Avenue and Northern Boulevard, an area that covers Sambucci’s shop; 35th Avenue between 126th and 127th streets, and 127th Street between 34th and 37th avenues.

Now even and without potholes, the blocks look smooth. Spaces on the edges of the streets remain unpaved, though; the city trucks resurfaced a space about 20 feet in diameter in the center of the affected roads.

Sambucci, who’d been a vocal critic of the city Department of Transportation for its inaction, praised the agency for the streets’ new condition.

“It’s absolutely fantastic right now,” he said. “I’m very surprised that they actually did this.”

The work is not a long-term fix, though.

“It is intended to be temporary as I understand it,” said Robert LoScalzo, a Whitestone filmmaker who is making a documentary about Willets Point.

The DOT has secured $17 million for more comprehensive roadway repair in Willets Point and is still planning the project, which will include the installation of sidewalks. More preliminary work is necessitated by the roads’ extraordinary condition.

DOT Borough Commissioner Nicole Garcia had met with Sambucci, other business owners and Community Board 7 leaders in the Iron Triangle in July.

The recent repaving is a “result” of that meeting, the agency said.

The DOT did not immediately provide an answer to a follow-up question about when it expects work to start on the $17 million project. However, Garcia told stakeholders at a recent meeting that it may begin in 2022, according to Sambucci and LoScalzo.

Also present was Irene Prestigiacomo, a Willets Point property owner who’s fought to get the city to repave the streets. She told the Chronicle she’s “happy as a lark” for the people who work in the industrial area every day. Earlier this year, she collected signatures from area businesses for a petition demanding the city to repave the roads.

Still, like Sambucci, she’s frustrated with the de Blasio administration’s handling of Willets Point in other ways. Specifically, they’re frustrated with how the city has blocked off 36th and 37th avenues. Not only is the situation bad for area businesses, they said, but it has the effect of slowing down emergency response vehicles that already have to deal with double- and triple-parked cars on the area’s streets.

Prestigiacomo said it may not be long before 127th Street once again has a rough surface, given the level of tractor trailer traffic on that road in Willets Point. The likely scenario is another reason for the city to reopen 37th Avenue, which vehicles use to get in and out of the industrial area.

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