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Sunnyside business owners and elected officials celebrated a major victory last Thursday when city Department of Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan visited the neighborhood and announced a much sought change in parking rules would be coming to Queens Boulevard.
Beginning at the end of October, the no-standing rules along the north side of Queens Boulevard between 39th and 49th streets will be decreased from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. to 7 a.m. to 8 a.m. In addition, 60 of the parking spots below the No. 7 subway train will be changed from 12-hour parking spots to four-hour parking spots, Sadik-Khan said.
“We’re thrilled with this today,” said Patricia Dorfman, vice president of the Sunnyside Chamber of Commerce. “We’ve been working on this for a long time.”
Business owners along the north side of the boulevard have long been jockeying for relaxed parking rules, saying the half-day regulations hindered the ability of residents to shop at their local stores early in the morning.
The no-standing rule had initially been put in place to clear a fifth lane on the north side of Queens Boulevard and allow for Manhattan-bound traffic to flow more easily during rush hour, but business owners said the lane was often taken up by idling vehicles anyway. Those who parked their cars for a few minutes to get an item from a store often found themselves facing stiff fees.
“The day of a $104 cup of coffee is over,” U.S. Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-Jackson Heights) said.
The 12-hour-long parking spaces appealed to drivers outside the neighborhood. City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) said the spots were often taken up by commuters from as far away as Long Island who would take the spaces for the day and then ride into Manhattan on the No. 7 train.
Now 60 of those spots, 36 on Queens Boulevard near 43rd and 44th streets and 24 near 41st Street, will be four-hour or less parking spaces.
“Sunnyside is not just a place to park to your car on your way to Manhattan,” Van Bramer said.
This summer area legislators had written letters to the DOT requesting that the rules be relaxed. Sadik-Khan said her office worked closely with the community to come to a compromise on these issues.
“It’s been a really great example of the teamwork between communities and the Bloomberg administration,” Sadik-Khan said.
Businessman and activist Ciaran Staunton, who owns Molly Bloom’s pub at Queens Boulevard and 43rd Street, said whenever Sadik-Khan comes to Sunnyside, she brings good news.
“We invest money in our neighborhood,” Staunton said. “We want to see our community invest in us.”
Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4564.
©2011 Community Newspaper Group
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