Act now to save our main street


To the editor:

(re: “Subway, Key Food could follow K Grill’s quiet death,” Sept. 6)

I am making a strong call to our elected officials to act on this paper’s Sept. 6 article that reported on the possible closure of both Subway — which would be unfortunate — and Key Food, which would be a local disaster.

The struggles of both stores reflect the ongoing struggle of small and large businesses to succeed on Riverdale’s main shopping streets, especially in ZIP code 10471. Nothing is going to change until the city, the DOT, the parks department, and our elected officials support a comprehensive plan to improve both traffic safety and the appearance of both Riverdale and Mosholu avenues.

There’s a reason that stores are struggling despite the fact that ZIP code 10471 has 25,000 residents (many affluent), and thousands more daily visitors to local schools and institutions. The streets, sidewalks, parking lots, medians and more look shabby and function poorly. Residents are getting in their cars and driving to Westchester County or elsewhere to shop, dine and get basic services.

The North Riverdale Merchants and Business Association is making great strides to address these problems by issuing its streetscape report that calls on the transportation and parks departments to act.

And the association is raising private money to maintain medians and tree pits through Riverdale Avenue. (Have you noticed the refurbished triangle at West 253rd Street, the lack of weeds and litter in the tree pits all summer? The banners and the welcome signs? This is the work of the association and its supporters at Hebrew Home, the College of Mount Saint Vincent, Skyview Property Owners, Skyview Wines, and many small business owners).

But only the DOT can implement a large-scale safety project under its Vision Zero program, and only the parks department can mount a comprehensive effort to maintain trees and medians.

Some of our elected officials have been supportive (thank you), and others have maintained their distance out of concern that the community board might react.

It’s time for all of us to come together to study common sense improvements so we don’t wind up with two main streets that look more like back alleys.

Christopher Rizzo

The author is a pro-bono attorney with the North Riverdale Merchants and Business Association, but presents this letter on his own behalf.

Christopher Rizzo,