DYKER HEIGHTS — If you have a child who participates in sports and plays on the 68th Precinct sports league you no doubt have experienced the frustration of trying to find parking along the corridor of Ben Vitale field, across from Poly Prep Day Country School and in front of the Brooklyn Veteran’s Hospital.
Illegally parked 18-wheelers and RVs have made it nearly impossible to find parking spots in the area. They park their rigs overnight and sometimes camp there for days or weeks at a time.
While this has been going on for decades, City Councilmember Justin Brannan is determined to solve the problem. He’s been actively working with the members of the 68th Precinct and trying to find alternative solutions to prevent the trucks from violating the law.
“It’s not only a public safety and quality of life issue but it’s about fairness. If you or I park illegally, we will get a ticket or get towed. Meanwhile, you have motorhomes, RVs, campers and tractor-trailers that seem to park along this corridor with impunity,” Brannan told this paper.
“My office has been working very closely with the NYPD on this issue. Unfortunately, NYPD doesn’t have the manpower or the resources to tow away these large vehicles every single day so we are looking at legislative action as well. We recently passed a new law that increased the penalties for commercial vehicles that park overnight on residential streets.”
Captain Robert Conwell, commanding officer of the 68th Precinct, confirmed that as part of what he called the 20 overnight tow operation on Wednesday, Sept. 18, 12 truck summonses for night time commercial parking violations were issued, three trucks were towed and two trucks were booted.
“We are also working on a bill that would prohibit commercial vehicles from parking on residential streets at any time unless it’s a utility company doing work or a truck making a local delivery,” explained Brannan. “In addition, we are working with the Department of Transportation to change the signage along this corridor and implement back-in angle parking for residents that would also prevent trucks from using this area as their parking lot.” The Department of Transportation confirmed to this paper that the idea of angled parking is on the table and being discussed with Brannan.
Harry D’Onofrio, president of the 68th Precinct Youth Council explained that the Youth Council is celebrating 60 years of community programs and continuing to grow. “With close to 1000 kids in the program soccer is growing,” D’Onofrio told this paper.
“The difficulty finding parking makes for a very stressful weekend. Our participants often at times have to cross double parked cars on both sides of the street as they wait for spots to open. With increased traffic this can lead to a hazardous crossing. The parking of long term vehicles makes the parking situation difficult to say the least,” he added.
D’Onofrio continued, “We need more action to be done. Perhaps bring back 90-degree parking or look into alternative solutions to stop the long term parking problems. Without the removal of the long term parking, I fear these issues won’t go away soon.”
Chris Athineos, a long-time coach with 68th Precinct soccer league agreed with D’Onofrio. “These commercial trucks parked in our residential neighborhood by the Ben Vitale field for an extended period of time is unacceptable. The trucks are surrounding our ball fields day and night taking up dozens of parking spaces. Not only can we not find parking to attend our kids’ games, but it is a serious safety hazard,” said Athineos.
“Having our kids trying to cross the street between these trucks limits their visibility and is the recipe for a tragedy. As a soccer coach and parent, I hope that our elected officials take this seriously,” Athineos continued.
“If issuing a summons is not effective, then the trucks should be booted and towed. I know Councilman Brannan has been working with the DOT on getting angle parking by the fields which will prevent the trucks from parking there and hopefully open up more spots for cars. We also need to get cars and trucks to slow down on that stretch of the road so our kids can cross the street safely,” added Athineos.