(re: “We showed DOT what’s what, but what happens to Broadway now?” June 12)
The resolution passed by Community Board 8 on the Broadway corridor is a call to action. It is not the end of the conversation — it is the beginning.
As chair of the community board, I was aware of the history of accidents on the Broadway corridor, and therefore excited that DOT was working on a plan, a draft of which existed in February, although not for distribution.
The bicycle unit of DOT presented the Broadway corridor plan on April 25 to the traffic and transportation committee. Although we received the final draft only hours before the meeting, the board received more than 200 emails from a special interest group supporting measures in the plan prior to the meeting.
A second meeting in May served as a public hearing to give the community a meaningful opportunity to comment. Remarks from elected officials, agency heads and board members followed comments from the public. Finally, the traffic committee voted on the proposal after more than six hours of testimony by hundreds of community stakeholders.
The resolution disapproved the plan in its entirety, but accepted parts of the proposal that dealt with safety. It called for DOT to study solutions raised at the meetings. It contained many “whereas” clauses reflecting testimony given and a community voice in the resolution.
An individual wrote that he was told that a board member handed out community board business cards in soliciting opposition testimony to disfavored projects, and questioned whether the board member was acting ethically. While questioning someone’s ethics should be based on more than a third party story, I do say that I implore each board member to inform residents and businesses about issues in our community regardless of whether someone is for or against a proposal.
Did the community board cede its vote on the DOT proposal by not voting in a specific manner — yes, no, or yes with modifications? The answer is no. Board resolutions are not limited to these three answers when presented with a proposal by DOT.
There were ominous statements about possible consequences of the board’s vote — such as DOT would not give the board a “seat at the table” future discussions regarding the Broadway corridor.
This conclusion defies logic. DOT refused to incorporate any changes set forth by the community in meetings prior to the vote. If we approved the plan, DOT would have no reason to discuss changes to the plan.
By rejecting the plan as presented, the board can continue the discussion with the agency and the public.
It was inferred the resolution would inhibit the legal duty of the city stated in Turturro v. City of New York.
The Turturro case maintains that a municipality has a duty to conduct proper and adequate studies of a known speeding problem and must implement a plan to mitigate or resolve the problem. The action items in the resolution are in accord with the Turturro case.
The board was criticized for not accepting the one plan proposed by DOT as dogma from its engineers.
A basic premise of our democracy is that government actions should be questioned and challenged. Public input through hearings or otherwise is an essential response to government proposals. Why? Government is not infallible.
The board is compromised of professionals, many of whom have advanced degrees, and all with innate knowledge of our community. Notable, DOT engineers placed an oddly shaped traffic island on Van Cortlandt Park West and Sedgwick Avenue without input from the board. This change caused numerous accidents, and most recently, the death of a local resident.
The DOT plan, devised without community input, could change the Broadway corridor for decades.
The effects of the plan are unknown. The board resolution calls for immediate action on safety solutions and studies on other items.
The board will continue to press on safety issues of the Broadway corridor.
The author is chair of Community Board 8.