June 1, 2018 By Tara Law
Councilmember Karen Koslowitz is opposed to the implementation of the Queens Boulevard redesign between Yellowstone Boulevard and Union Turnpike because too many parking spaces would be eliminated, a spokesperson for her office said Thursday.
The Department of Transportation is gearing up to install the fourth and final phase of the controversial project in July. The redesign between Yellowstone Boulevard and Union Turnpike, which would include traffic calming measures and protected bike lanes, calls for the elimination of about 200 parking spots, according to the DOT.
Koslowitz is concerned that the loss of so many spaces would damage businesses, according an office spokesperson.
“She is not opposed to [protected] bike lanes, but she is opposed to the DOT plan,” said Michael Cohen, a spokesperson for Koslowitz. “She feels that they are taking away too many parking spaces.”
Koslowitz doesn’t have the power to stop the project from moving ahead. A DOT spokesperson said the opinion of councilmembers are taken “into consideration.”
Last month, at a Community Board 6 Transportation Committee meeting, the Queens Deputy Commissioner for the DOT made it clear that the project would move forward, according to Streetsblog.
“This is a mayoral priority,” the DOT official said, reported Streetsblog.
The DOT argues that the alterations to Queens Boulevard, which have been installed from Roosevelt Avenue in Woodside through to Yellowstone Boulevard in Rego Park, have made the road significantly safer.
However, many business owners have taken issue with the inclusion of protected bike lanes since they have led to the loss of parking spaces. Many argue that their customers have trouble parking, which has cut into their profits.
Koslowitz supported Phase III of the Queens Boulevard redesign between Eliot Avenue and Yellowstone Boulevard last year— after declining to take a clear stance on the project for some time.
Her opposition this time, however, represents the first time a council member representing a district that incorporates the Queens Boulevard redesign has opposed it.
The first two phases of the redesign were within the districts of Councilmembers Jimmy Van Bramer and Danny Dromm, who both supported the project.
Van Bramer urged Community Board 2 in 2015 to vote in support of Phase I— which goes from Roosevelt Avenue to 73rd Street section— and has been an outspoken advocate for the entire redesign from the beginning.
Meanwhile, when Community Board 4 voted against the DOT’s plan for Phase II— which goes from 74th Street to Eliot Avenue— Dromm backed the mayor, who decided the project should go ahead regardless.
Given the history, the leaders of Community Board 6 believe they have little say on Phase IV. The board, therefore, remains unsure whether it will vote on the project at its June 13 meeting.
“Whether we vote or not the DOT is going to do what it plans to do,” said Steven Goldberg, chair of Community Board 6’s Transportation Committee. “The DOT has shown a disregard for the feelings of the people who live along Queens Boulevard.”