DOT Ramps Up Traffic Safety In Manhattan Beach

The Department of Transportation is implementing several new traffic safety initiatives in Manhattan Beach, but the neighborhood’s community groups still say more needs to be done.

The agency has agreed to add a speed bump on Oxford Street, and permanent stop signs have already been installed at each of Kingsborough Community College’s entrances. The city also approved a plan to increase “daylighting” – the removal of parking spaces from corners to allow more visibility for drivers making a turn – along all Oriental Boulevard corners where a southbound street meets the avenue.

Despite the concessions, both of the community’s civics are asking for more to be done to protect the neighborhood from reckless drivers.

Manhattan Beach Neighborhood Association scored the most recent victory in achieving that end, finally meeting with DOT’s Brooklyn Borough Commissioner Joseph Palmieri on January 28. They detailed that get together during last night’s association meeting at P.S. 195, saying they pushed a number of proposals for the commissioner’s consideration, including the installation of four-way stop signs along Hampton Avenue, a flashing yellow light at the bend in Shore Boulevard near Exeter Street, a right turn lane at the exit of the Irwin Street parking lot, and turning the Ocean Avenue blinking yellow light into a conventional traffic signal.

“The meeting was very positive,” said MBNA’s traffic chair, Ron Biondo. “I’m happy to report that the commissioner does have our ear. He’s very concerned with the community and he has all the suggestions that the civic leaders and civic members and residents have brought to his attention.”

Though there’s no timeline for action, and the commissioner says he will review the information and create a new proposal for the neighborhood’s traffic safety, the most important outcome of the meeting may have been securing a promise from Palmieri to visit the neighborhood at a time of the group’s choosing. That will allow Palmieri, and an engineer he’ll bring with him, to see the speeding cars and backed up traffic along the community’s two broad stretches when it’s at its worst: during Kingsborough’s class dismissal times.

The January 28 meeting was attended by Palmieri, Biondo, MBNA Public Relations Chair Edmond Dweck, and a representative from the mayor’s office.

Notably absent were representatives of the Manhattan Beach Community Group. That gave MBNA President Alan Ditchek an opportunity to take a political jab at the rival group, saying it meant they were “no longer in the picture;” Dweck and Biondo moved quickly to point out, however, that it was merely because of a scheduling conflict.

But neither explanation seems to line up with MBCG’s story.

“The fact that Dweck said we had a scheduling conflict is absolutely, categorically, 100 percent not true,” MBCG President Ira Zalcman told Sheepshead Bites. The group was simply never invited, he said.

He added concerns that approaching the DOT separately may continue to give the city an excuse to move sluggishly towards solutions, and worried that it may be a case of “too many cooks in the kitchen,” a claim he promises to elaborate more on during tomorrow night’s MBCG meeting.

“All the things that they asked for were not the priorities,” he said. “Most upsetting is that there’s nothing that was accomplished at the corner where Evan was killed by the bus. Not a sign, not a crosswalk, not anything.” Zalcman was referring to Evan Svirsky, a 4-year-old killed in a bus accident last November. “They missed the bigger picture and unfortunately they accomplished very little.”

The MBNA, though, remains optimistic about their accomplishments.

“I’m very confident that in the near future we’re going to have some specifics to report at future meetings,” Biondo said.