Members of the New York City Department of Transportation (DOT) met with Sunset Park Restoration executive director and creator of Sunset Parker Facebook page Tony Giordano on Friday, May 15 during a meeting to discuss an array of topics and ideas to keep Sunset Park streets safe from an accident number, Giordano says, is rising.
Giordano was joined by Assemblymember Felix Ortiz and State Senator Jesse Hamilton as well as DOT’s Brooklyn Borough Commissioner Keith Bray and project manager Jesse Mintz-Roth, among others.
During the meeting, Giordano presented research conducted by the Restoration regarding 72nd Precinct accident reports and how new DOT traffic configurations of Fourth Avenue has led to more accidents than in the past.
“The numbers that we’ve come up with show that, in 2014, after your safety plan was put into effect, there were 165 accidents on Fourth Avenue,” he said. “Our numbers could be off and maybe we didn’t get all the reports that were available but what we are seeing on paper is what our community has been seeing during the daytime. We see these accidents.”
This claim comes on the heels of a handful of accidents that recently took place in Sunset Park, one of which occurred on Monday, May 18 when a child was struck by a van while riding his scooter near a gas station, fracturing his leg. In addition, near Fourth Avenue and 31st Street, an elderly woman was killed when struck by a car swerving to avoid an accident.
“It is getting worse and worse,” Giordano said, also contesting a proposed DOT configuration which includes two traffic lanes, and an expanded center median. “If DOT goes ahead and pours concrete and makes those medians wider, it’s going to be worse because now if you sit on the curb and watch what’s going on, you see when there are double parked cars and trucks, the traffic goes into the median.”
Ortiz touched on the lack of collaboration between elected officials and the DOT in educating Sunset residents on crossing rules and guidelines. “One of the biggest challenges in our community is that information doesn’t get to the real people and if you’re doing it, we don’t know,” he said. “You’re telling me DOT has been doing that and I’ve been in office for 21 years and we have never collaborated together. If we can work together, we will be able to give that information out.”
Bray agreed with Ortiz.
“We’re going to bring back what you said at this meeting to [DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg] as she was interested in how this meeting went,” Bray said, adding that in terms of teaming up to educate, DOT “can certainly do that.”
Trottenberg was slated to attend the meeting, but was a last minute no-show due to a scheduling conflict, disappointing Giordano greatly.
“That’s extremely disappointing and I understand the pulls on her office,” he said. “But in a way, it was pivotal for her to be here because it was a sign of respect to the community which means so much to us.”