The Department of Transportation and MTA have been pushing a Select Sus Service route along Nostrand Avenue since December 2009 that could cause major traffic and parking changes, but Sheepshead Bay businesses along the commercial corridor were never notified.
Several business owners on Nostrand Avenue told Sheepshead Bites that they were never approached by the city, and some only found out when we visited. Businesses south of Avenue X will see the addition of a dedicated bus lane during rush hours, which the city will enforce with cameras and policing to keep it free of double-parked cars or trucks making deliveries.
“I found out [about SBS service and the bus lane] when I saw a guy measuring something on the sidewalk,” said Howard Blady, owner of Klearview Appliances at 3707 Nostrand Avenue. Blady said he made the discovery two days before Community Board 15′s October 25 meeting, in which the DOT and MTA made their second – and, likely, final – presentation about the service. “I am a little bit disappointed between the Community Board and whoever is in charge of soliciting our opinions for not doing it.”
He’s glad he found out, since bus lane hours could coincide with the hours Klearview receives deliveries. In addition to attending the meeting and speaking to DOT representatives, Blady enlisted the aid of Assemblywoman Helen Weinstein, who has an office on Nostrand Avenue. They’re working together with the city agencies to ensure minimal disruption to the business’ operations.
But many businesses south of Avenue X were not as well informed as Klearview. A DOT spokesperson told Sheepshead Bites that they’ve had direct meetings with the Nostrand Avenue Merchant’s Association, but admits to focusing the outreach to the northern part of the corridor where they feel the most significant changes are expected. No business below Avenue U belongs to the merchant’s association.
That’s a problem for many local businesses, who are concerned about how loading and parking changes may affect their operations.
“It’s obviously going to be an inconvenience for customers,” said Gena Golman, the manager of Health Choice Pharmacy (3735 Nostrand Avenue). Golman was not made aware of the new bus service until we spoke to him. “It’s going to be difficult for pick-ups.”
Golman expressed frustration at not being made aware of the Select Bus Service at any point during the last two years of planning.
“It’s not right,” said Golman.
Several other business owners on the strip told Sheepshead Bites that they were not informed, but requested not to be quoted or identified. Assemblywoman Weinstein said businesses who have concerns about the changes can contact her 3520 Nostrand Avenue office by calling (718) 648-4700.
Though the outreach may have been deficient, not all business owners think the changes are bad for business. At Klearview, one of the neighborhood’s largest retailers, Blady would’ve liked to have been consulted, but overall he thinks it could be beneficial for the area.
“As long as it doesn’t affect the parking spaces, I think it’ll be good,” said Blady. “It’ll just be another bus that will attract more people to this part of Nostrand Avenue.”