If New York City’s transportation department wants to transform the North Riverdale portion of Broadway, it’s going to do it without the blessing of Community Board 8.
In a vote that wasn’t even close Monday, CB8 followed the lead set by outgoing chair Dan Padernacht just a couple weeks ago rejecting key aspects of a road restriping plan on Broadway, stretching from West 242nd Street to the Yonkers city line.
“I think the most troubling thing for this entire proposal that I have seen is the lack of collaboration with DOT,” CB8 member Steven Sarao said. “The fact that many voices — be it the parking, the merchants and the people who use the park — so many of those voices came forward at these meetings, and it didn’t seem to me there was some common respect shown to those voices.”
The city’s transportation department had first publicly revealed plans to revamp Broadway at the end of April, immediately hitting opposition from residents and businesses that use both Broadway and its neighboring Van Cortlandt Park. DOT wanted to narrow some of the unusually wide lanes to slow down traffic, create safer pedestrian crossings, and even include bicycle travel lanes on both sides of the road.
One of the business leaders, Parkview Sports Center owner Allen Dillon, spoke on behalf of those Broadway-lined stores at the Monday meeting, saying DOT’s plan would create traffic bottlenecks on the road.
“This proposal is going to hurt our businesses, and some of those businesses already are struggling to stay afloat,” Dillon said. “This is all about adding bicycle lanes, and pedestrian safety is being used. Those bikes can be ridden in the park.”
Padernacht’s resolution would reject the bike lanes, install additional parking along Broadway, and increase the timing of traffic lights to help slow traffic down, among other requests. Because CB8 is an advisory body, the transportation department is not bound by its decisions, and can either continue working with the board, or continue its plans on its own.
If that happened, CB8 would no longer have a spot at the transportation table when it came to Broadway, board member Bob Fanuzzi said.
“I believe that to approve this is to lead the board out of significant conversations,” he said.
“We either become irrelevant bystanders, or we really push back for possibly a year or two substantive changes that, for public safety, need to be made now.”
Fellow CB8 member Bob Bender focused on the eight pedestrians who have been struck on Broadway in recent years.
While some opponents of the DOT plan say those pedestrians were crossing illegally when they were hit, Bender wouldn’t let that negate his overall argument.
“Yes, we are not supposed to jaywalk, but I’m willing to bet everyone in this room has done it one time or another,” Bender said.
“But I never thought of it as an infraction that deserved the death penalty.”
Bender also suggested Broadway could gain even more parking for its local businesses by eliminating 12-hour spots around Manhattan College on the south side of the stretch, and instead shifting those to short-term.
“The parking condition is atrocious right now,” he said. “That’s something we should be doing regardless of what happens to this plan.”