August 6, By Jackie Strawbridge
Assembly Member Aravella Simotas has requested that the Department of Transportation ban cars from the waterfront edge of Astoria Park.
Simotas, in a letter addressed Tuesday, charged that traffic on Shore Boulevard from Astoria Park South to Ditmars Boulevard poses both a danger and a nuisance to those who live and work nearby. She requested that the DOT close it off to vehicular traffic.
The request does not apply to emergency vehicles, according to her office.
“This half-mile portion of roadway provides no meaningful transportation purpose and contributes to a number of problems for our community,” Simotas wrote, citing speeding, reckless driving, drinking and drug use.
“Closing Shore Boulevard between Astoria Park South and Ditmars Boulevard to vehicles would have minimal effect on congestion in the area, would enhance access to the waterfront, and would undoubtedly make Astoria Park a safer and more enjoyable space,” she went on.
Per public records, this stretch of road has seen dozens of collisions and noise complaints for music and partying over the past several years.
An overnight parking ban already exists on this stretch of road.
As of Thursday afternoon, the DOT had yet not seen Simotas’ letter, according to officials. However, a spokesperson said that it is an issue the agency looks forward to discussing further with community stakeholders.
The DOT did not immediately respond to follow up questions regarding the process of closing a street permanently to traffic, and which parties would be involved.
Simotas’ idea has the support of the Astoria Park Alliance, according to APA chairperson Martha Lopez-Gilpin.
“Astoria Park was created to give park users access to the waterfront. The closure of Shore Boulevard would extend Astoria Park all the way to the water, ensure pedestrian safety, increase programming potential and fulfill the vision upon which Astoria Park was founded,” Lopez-Gilpin said in a statement.
However, not everyone was convinced that the closure would have a positive impact.
The Old Astoria Neighborhood Association, which has mulled a slew of possible traffic changes around Astoria Park internally, is not yet taking a position on Simotas’ request, according to OANA President Richard Khuzami.
Randy Klein, who owns Whiskers Holistic Pet Care on Ditmars Boulevard near Astoria Park, called the idea “totally ridiculous.”
“It’s hard enough for businesses on that side of town to entice people to come down, and now you’re going to take off the waterside view, which is a big draw,” she said. “Now you’re going to make someone park blocks and blocks away, when there’s no parking for residents to begin with.”
Letter to DOT-Shore BLVD by Queens Post
I will prefer one way street,becouse many times they drive dengerosly and to ad a speed limit.Olso I will like 19th Street one way with a speed limit becouse motorcicle are very noisy special after midnight…than you.
I’m a humorless TRANSPLANT who likes dong. That is all.
First they make the Westway Motel a shelter, now they close down Shore Blvd. Where am I supposed to go to bang the mistress? I REPEAT. WHERE AM I SUPPOSED TO GO TO BANG THE MISTRESS.
HERE COME THE CONDOS!!!!!!
Why don’t the cops just enforce the hell out of the noise and nuisance complaints down there? It’s true that in the evenings it’s a lot of loud (bad) music and assholery, but a slew of citations night after night would sort that out, wouldn’t it?
They closed it in the late 70’s early 80’s and everyone parked on 19th street. The very same people that wanted it closed could not park their cars near their homes. Boy did they do an about face then! History repeats!
Clearly a case of yet another politician trying to make a new self serving asinine law, and if the people don’t band together, her and her other political friends are gonna make it happen. Watch.
Car free Shore Blvd is a stupid idea. Closing for special events are fine. But that street is one of Queens wonders. The traffic all over is getting worse. Assembly member should be more worried about lack of DOT. city & state not doing their job and endangering drivers and pedestrians.
One of the things I enjoy the most in Astoria is ASTORIA PARK DRIVE! Aside from being a great place to park and relax, get out and walk or just enjoy the beautiful view, it is also an important alernate route for rush hour driving. The park, even in summer, is not filled with residents at that time. Also sometimes after working a hard day, I will take a bit longer getting home and drive thru the park just to unwind and relax. The drive serves ALL!!!! It is not similar to Central Park which is packed with people running and biking before work. I am totally against the idea of car free drive.
A danger and a nuisance to those who live and work nearby? But….no one lives or works on Shore Blvd. along the park. This only *increases* those issues for those who live and work nearby, which is where those dangerous nuisances will be forced to drive and congregate. HORRIBLE IDEA, unworthy of the Assemblywoman’s time.
This is a very, very bad idea. What will be the purpose of the street? What about 19th street that is in front of residential homes? I am getting sick and tired of this anti-vehicle attitude as if people who drive are evil, noise-making criminals. How are people supposed to get to the park? Not everyone can walk and bike there. I am having my name removed from Simotas’ mailing list. This is ridiculous.
I love this idea! I will miss the ice cream truck that always parks there…Oh this would be such a great place for a weekend farmers market! Finally, I will have a place to lay down picnic or tan. I never liked the dirty benches or the poop/urine infested grass!
I like this idea but we live in an area with unsafe driving habits and poor pedestrian behavior. Opening the road will allow irresponsible drivers to speed and illegally pass slower traffic. There are always people enjoying themselves by the shore and parked cars can act as a barrier between moving vehicles and sidewalks. Unless traffic police are there to enforce laws and safety there will be some that will totally disregard it.
This is absolutely ridiculous. Maybe if Pedestrians, Cyclists, Parkgoers and Motorists obeyed the laws we wouldn’t have issues down on the “Strip”. The parking lot under the JFK (Triboro) Bridge fills up quickly during the weekends so where would you like these parkgoers to park and most of them are not even from Astoria. The park is for everyone not just us Astoria residents. Maybe they should think about widening 19th Street so that it would be accessible for two way traffic. The views are beautiful and yes people will come to see them with or without it closing it off but give them the access to. You don’t want to close it down just to cause problems somewhere else in our neighborhood. If you close it motorists who just come down to the park to hangout may just start hanging out again on 20th Avenue and racing there since there’s not many lights… More IMPORTANT issues to be looking into than closing the area between Astoria Blvd South and Ditmars Blvd.
Assembly Member Simotas’ letter does not limit the closure request to night time. So to all you peace loving drivers who park on Shore Boulevard from sunrise to sunset; to the retirees, and mobility impaired who have difficulty navigating the Park and only want to sit in their cars and gaze out on the water, the attitude is that your presence is blemishing the hipster vibe, and you serve no meaningful purpose within the ‘new’ Astoria. Your simple needs and comfort are unimportant.
To all the criminals, public fornicators, drinkers and drug users, please park on any of the residential streets surrounding the park and carry on.
Another day, another ill-conceived revisioning idea for Astoria Park.
Cops should patrol the surrounding streets for those criminals, public fornicators, drinkers and drug users/drug dealers. It’s getting ridiculous in the surrounding areas. When I was a kid I knew not to hangout in the streets especially residential and make all types of noise. These kids now a days have no respect for anyone or themselves
Simontas is dillusional. I live on Ditmars by Astoria Park. We already lost parking to night regulations from 12am-6am. On alterate side days, those few spots (right off Ditmars on shore) help with the congestion of parking. Not to mention the constant movies being filmed without our consent and we receive nothing as residents. Just fewer parking spots for days on end. This area is crowded as is and it’s pretty much the only area in Astoria where you can have a car. How about we concentrate more on Beefing up the police or putting an adequate speed bump and not a hump on Ditmars so no one else gets killed? . And stop these motorcycles cruising at all hours of the night. An absolute joke. Haven’t we given up enough??? Let’s concentrate on the crime not losing parking.
This is not a new idea. Shore Blvd was closed for a few years in the late 70s. The idea failed then and will fail now. Usage of the park declined dramatically.The chairperson of the Astoria Park Alliance may not like the street being open to cars but who elected her to make those decisions. In this article not one interview of actual park users was included. People who actually use the park are strongly against this idea as a great number of park users drive to the park to use it. Maybe Aravella Simotas should spend her time trying to solve real Astoria problems like the rising crime rate particularly burglaries, the overdevelopment of Astoria and the resultant overcrowding of infrastructure and the increasing filth. She might except that is where she gets her campaign contributions from….developers.
Absolutely, they closed it again in the late 80’s it didn’t work. The kids just went up to 19 St and the homeowners went crazy but what about older folks who bring chairs to sit by the water. Are they walking there? Don’t try to make more traffic we need streets opened with parking. Get the DOT to change that stupid left turn only lane on 21St. and Astoria Blvd., it causes more of a backup and close calls from drivers cutting in. There is no need for left turn there. Also, put some lights in tunnel from Grand Central to BQE there is a backup day and night. These area need to be addressed leave te park alone. Let everyone enjoy it.
Wait. The owner of the pet store is claiming people won’t come to her business because they can’t look at the river while they drive there? Give me a break.
If you do not make 19th street a one way street you are wasting your time. Closing down Shore will only cause more congestion on 19th, which is not built to handle two way traffic. 19th is the Street people cross to go into the park whether they are walking from parked cars or walking from 31st street. Just ask anyone who lives near there how many side mirrors have been lost to cars parked along 19th, let alone how many close calls with children in the street. The intersection of 23rd Avenue and 19th Street is constantly tricky because of the two way traffic on both streets. Shutting down Shore without making 19th a one way street will make it even more dangerous. Shore is used as a quick right of way when one does not want to deal with the congestion on 21st Street. Shutting it down is going to cause any number of problems.
I think this is a wonderful idea and has been something the residents who live near the park have been longing for. This has been a summer of hit and runs, speed racing by both cars and motorcycles. The community will be able to enjoy the waterfront without worrying about the nonsense that has existed for so many years.
Astoria Park is not a private park just for the residents who live near the park. Astoria Park is for all residents of Astoria as well as New York City.
Astoria Park is not a private park for the residents in the immediate are of the park. It is a park for the use of all Astoria residents, residents of NYC, and whoever else wants to visit it. There are very few parks in western queens for the number of residents. The stakeholders are a much larger group than any Astoria Park Alliance or local homeowners association. Their voices must be heard.