The 102nd Precinct, led by Officer Jose Severino of Community Affairs, did a terrific job at the rally keeping residents safe. The Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association (WRBA) coordinated with the precinct before the rally on several logistical issues, one of which was the exact location.
Alexander Blenkinsopp, communications director of the WRBA, alerted the 102nd that the protestors would not only stand outside the bank at Woodhaven Boulevard and Jamaica Avenue, but that some of the protestors would be standing on the median holding signs, alerting passing drivers about DOT’s debacle.
The NYPD rejected the last part of the request, and stated that protestors were not allowed to stand on the median. The reason? They said the median was much too dangerous to stand on.
To review: the same location where DOT plans to have our residents wait for buses was deemed too dangerous for protestors to stand during the rally.
Sure enough, at the outset of the rally I went over to the median strip to take some video and an officer accompanied me.
It’s one thing to pause on the median when crossing the boulevard, your stay is brief as you make your way across. It’s another thing entirely to stand for any length of time in the midst of the madness.
Cars and trucks and buses fly past in front of and behind you at breakneck speeds, your body buffeted violently in their wake.
This is where they want your mothers and grandmothers to stand, waiting for however long it takes for the next bus to arrive. This is where they want your children to stand, surrounded by speeding vehicles, waiting five, ten, 20 minutes for a bus.
And they won’t be waiting alone. As they are eliminating most of the bus stops in Woodhaven, residents will be forced to cram themselves onto those medians. Where do you currently wait for the bus?
The bus stop at Woodhaven Boulevard and Atlantic Avenue? Gone, DOT is eliminating it.
The bus stop at Woodhaven Boulevard and 89th Avenue? Gone, DOT is eliminating it.
The bus stop at Woodhaven Boulevard and 85th Road? Gone, DOT is eliminating it.
The bus stop at Woodhaven Boulevard and Park Lane South? Gone, DOT is eliminating it.
The bus stop at Woodhaven Boulevard and Forest Park Drive? Gone, DOT is eliminating it.
DOT’s process of elimination means that residents of Woodhaven are screwed when it comes to local bus access, particularly the elderly and the disabled.
We currently have seven bus stops. Under this plan we will have two, one at 91st Avenue and another at Jamaica Avenue.
In response to the rally, DOT whined to NY1 that they have already made “several changes to the original plan based on extensive community feedback.”
This is undeniably true. Believe it or not, what they were originally proposing was far worse. But just because DOT backed off on some of the execrable ideas they were floating doesn’t make the rest of their bad ideas smell any better.
The residents of Woodhaven and the surrounding communities will continue to push back and demand a better and safer plan for our boulevard. The residents want a plan that will vastly improve the commute time of bus riders and keep them safe.
And the residents want a plan that’s not going to strangle the boulevard with traffic and flood our community with angry drivers looking to avoid the mess DOT wants to create.
If you are interested in being part of this fight for a better boulevard, you can start by coming to the next Woodhaven Town Hall meeting on Saturday, August 20, at noon at Emanuel United Church of Christ at 93-12 91st Avenue (corner of 91st Avenue and Woodhaven Boulevard). There, you will be able to sign petitions against this plan.
And if you would like to sign the online petition, or learn more about this ongoing brouhaha, you can visit saveourstreets.nyc.
Many thanks to everyone who cared enough about the safety of our residents and came out to the rally. We hope it makes a difference.