Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Bronx Parking, New York Times Article Mentions Someplace Special, Haircuts And Toys For Kids!

I was mentioned in an article this morning in the New York Times

A Bronx Parking Paradise, for a While
Michael M. Grynbaum
Published: October 27, 2009

Of all the tiny tortures that come with driving a car in New York City, perhaps none are more taxing than the ritual of alternate-side-of-the-street parking.
It’s the peaceful morning ruined by an early alarm, the tedium of circling for a space, the despair of spying a tuft of tickets growing from a windshield wiper. But starting on Wednesday, drivers in a portion of the Bronx will be granted a rare reprieve: The city is suspending the rules for six to eight weeks.

The suspension will affect a swath of Riverdale stretching from the Harlem River to West 263rd Street, encompassing the area’s main shopping drags and prime residential streets that peer out to the Palisades. Parts of Kingsbridge and Spuyten Duyvil also will be included.
The reprieve will give the city time to replace 2,200 street signs. The signs will reflect a new policy to clean the area’s streets only once a week instead of twice. The new rules will go into effect in December; until then, Riverdale is a parking paradise.

“It’s a very big deal,” said Tony Perez Cassino, who led an effort by a community board to bring about the changes. “It makes everybody’s life a little bit better.” Privately owned parking spaces in the area can sell for up to $50,000 for prime indoor spots, according to Scott Kriger, a Citi Habitats broker who specializes in Riverdale properties.

So ingrained is the alternate-side ritual in the city’s psyche that George Costanza, on an episode of “Seinfeld,” took a job moving cars from one side of the street to the other. (The result, of course, was bedlam.)

To get the reprieve, Riverdale had to show that 90 percent of its streets were rated “acceptably clean” for three years running. It is only the third time that the city has relaxed the rules. The first two suspensions benefited Brooklyn neighborhoods: Park Slope in 2008 and areas of Fort Greene, Boerum Hill and Downtown Brooklyn this year.

Suzanne Axelbank, owner of Someplace Special Haircuts and Toys for Kids, a children’s salon off Riverdale Avenue, said she would welcome the changes. Her walk to work has been replaced with an unpleasant search for a parking spot since she broke her foot recently. “I parked five or six blocks away, and I had to walk with my broken foot.”

Told of the rule change, Fernando Ferrer, a former candidate for mayor and a 10-year Riverdale resident, feigned surprise: “I’m shocked. Shocked! In an election year?”
Did he suspect some political motivation? “Is the timing fortuitous? Let everyone come to his or her own conclusion,” Mr. Ferrer said. “That’s the beauty of being the incumbent. You can time everything.” He was referring to Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, who defeated Mr. Ferrer in 2005 and is again seeking re-election.

A spokesman for the Department of Sanitation, which oversees the parking rules, said logistics had determined the timing.
Spaces that fall under other parking restrictions may be cleaned during the rule suspension, city officials said, but in general, the affected streets will go unwashed.

Former Gov. Eliot Spitzer, reached by telephone, said that parking was never an issue for him while growing up in Riverdale because he did not have a driver’s license. He said his commute to Horace Mann, a private school in the area, was accomplished on foot. “Downhill on the way there,” he said, “and a hard uphill walk on the way home.”

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