The Department of Transportation has agreed to a slew of minor improvements to help curb dangerous driving in Manhattan Beach, following a recent meeting with community stakeholders. Community leaders, though, are vowing to keep the pressure on for more significant improvements.
At the meeting, organized by Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz and attended by representatives from te 61st Precinct, Community Board 15 and the Manhattan Beach Neighborhood Association, DOT Brooklyn Commissioner Joe Palmieri agreed to paint “Stop” on the road at each intersection with an existing “Stop” sign, as well as install “Stop Ahead” signs at the same intersections. He also said that he would add signage around P.S. 195 to alert motorists to its presence, and install better signage by the Manhattan Beach playgrounds to let drivers know that active children are likely to be in the area.
“We are past the point of studying this, we need action. This is not a political issue; it is a concern for the safety of each and every one of our residents as well as the tens of thousands who visit the community each week. We must focus on finding solutions that will work before another person is hurt or life is lost.”
The traffic powwow also covered the community’s wishes to change the zebra stripes, eliminate the bike lanes and the need to make left turns on Oriental Boulevard safer.
Palmieri promised to bring the community concerns to the top of the chain at DOT, Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan. Cymbrowitz has scheduled a follow-up meeting with Sadik-Khan and Deputy Inspector Georgios Mastrokostas.
Ron Biondo, traffic chair of the MBNA, gave a recap of the powwow at the group’s January meeting on Monday. He noted that the group is still seeking additional changes and that the group will need to continue pressuring the department for more action.
On Wednesday, we told you all about the barbecue-hatin’ Manhattan Beach Neighborhood Association’s Monday meeting, in which they presented a petition from the barbecue-lovin’ Manhattan Beach Community Group. That petition, drawn up in 2007, before the two groups split and when current MBNA leaders actually ran the MBCG (confused yet?), has included on it the signatures of the current leaders of the MBCG, who say they oppose the ban. According the MBNA, that shows that the MBCG are a bunch of hypocrites.
Our question? Why is one of New York City’s tiniest neighborhoods so freakin’ confusing?
Anyway, we couldn’t include the video with yesterday’s story because of technical problems. So here it is, in all its glory. Now you can see MBNA President Alan Ditchek look directly in the camera and talk to the “bloggers” (though a quick review of what we’ve written suggests he’s probably talking to the commenters). Oh, and there’s a doctor there, too. Around minute 6:30, when it turns political, he seems about as confused as we are.
The rhetoric between the Manhattan Beach Neighborhood Association and Manhattan Beach Community Group continued to mount this week, as MBNA President Alan Ditchek released a 2007 petition to ban the practice – a petition signed by the current proposal’s most vocal critics.
The petition reflects efforts from four years ago to ban barbecuing in Manhattan Beach Park, and the signatures of Manhattan Beach Community Group leaders – who now call the current attempt “racist” – casts doubt on their sincerity.
The heat around a proposed barbecue ban on Manhattan Beach continued to intensify this week, this time at the Community Board 15 meeting. But the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation said they have no plans to halt one of America’s favorite pastimes.
Parks Department Brooklyn Commissioner Kevin Jeffrey listened intently to arguments for and against the ban at the Wednesday night meeting, but appeared unmoved by the opponents’ concerns. And, according to a statement from his office, no ban is likely in the near future.
“Commissioner Jeffrey has been in touch with the Community Board regarding their concerns,” a Parks Department spokesperson told Sheepshead Bites. “At this time there are no plans to eliminate barbecuing at Manhattan Beach.”
Traffic safety, property taxes and public transportation all came up at last night’s Manhattan Beach Neighborhood Association meeting, but the issue that had the membership most fired up was charcoal grilling in the Manhattan Beach park.
The group voted unanimously to send letters to city agencies demanding that barbecuing be banned and the charcoal pits uprooted from the park, a move that would eliminate one of the borough’s seven parks that legally allow grills, and one of only two in Southern Brooklyn.
The vote was made after the group’s president, Dr. Alan Ditchek, an internal medicine and infectious disease specialist, brought up a recent study linking airborne particulate matter with elevated incidents of stroke.
“I would like to question the city, who wants to legislate against smoking at the beach or smoking outdoors, how could they possibly allow the continuation of barbecue grills here on Manhattan Beach, jeopardizing the health of not only the residents of Manhattan Beach, but everyone on the beach, and everyone in the playground, and everyone on the ballfield,” Ditchek said in front of an audience of about a dozen residents. “If this study mentions particulate matter and risk of stroke – proven risk of stroke – then the city better get down here and shut down these barbecue grills as soon as possible.”
In an unusually frank 45-minute speech in front of neighbors, Manhattan Beach Community Group President Ira Zalcman dished on the group’s three-year feud with the Manhattan Beach Neighborhood Association, including a “sabotaged” attempt to reunite the two civics.
“We have been sabotaged in almost all of our efforts by one elected person in particular, and some other people,” Zalcman said. The politician went unnamed. On the city and state level, Manhattan Beach is represented by City Councilman Michael Nelson and State Senator Carl Kruger.
The Department of Transportation is implementing several new traffic safety initiatives in Manhattan Beach, but the neighborhood’s community groups still say more needs to be done.
The agency has agreed to add a speed bump on Oxford Street, and permanent stop signs have already been installed at each of Kingsborough Community College’s entrances. The city also approved a plan to increase “daylighting” – the removal of parking spaces from corners to allow more visibility for drivers making a turn – along all Oriental Boulevard corners where a southbound street meets the avenue.
Despite the concessions, both of the community’s civics are asking for more to be done to protect the neighborhood from reckless drivers.
One month after the tragic bus accident that killed a 4-year-old boy, Manhattan Beach’s civic organizations are grappling with outraged parents from P.S. 195. But as frustration mounts, the likeliest catalyst for change may not be the civic organizations that have worked for years for traffic safety, but from a lawsuit filed by the victim’s mother.