Concerns Grow Over Beach 61st Speeding

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While the homeless shelter subject took front and center at Tuesday’s Community Board 14 meeting, another important subject was put on the back burner—speeding on Beach 61st Street.

For several months, residents of Beach 61st Street and the surrounding area have come out to demand speed control devices for the residential block that continuously sees speeding cars, attempting to bypass traffic lights on Rockaway Beach Boulevard. On Tuesday, March 14, many of those residents came to the CB14 meeting to once again bring attention tothis issue, as it was supposed to be discussed as part of the Transportation Committee’s report. However, due to the change of location to Scholars’ Academy, which only allowed for a permit for the meeting to continue until 9:30 p.m., the subject was shafted until next month’s Community Board meeting, with the hot topic homeless shelter taking precedence. However, during public speaking, residents got a chance to express their frustrations.

“No one cares about the speed. This is a residential street with families that most people had never gone down until the last three to five years, with the placement of traffic lights near Stop and Shop, the YMCA and the stores like Boardwalk Pizza. We need a better handle on this. We’ve asked for changes and have sent e-mails. Beachfront road got speed bumps, which is great, but we need our street to be taken off of the map for traffic. There was just a crash at Beach 62nd Street yesterday and we’re afraid that someone’s child is going to get killed,” the Beach 61st resident said.

Pastor JD Williams of St. John’s Baptist Church, also a resident of Beach 61st expressed his displeasure in the issue being sidelined. “Every morning, from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m., I see that street changed to a speedway. I spoke with Captain Hall of the 100th Precinct about this and he sent patrol units, which I’m grateful for, but if we don’t do something about this, someone is going to get killed,” he said. “This should be one of the main agenda items for today. All of my neighbors with cars are afraid to go into their driveways head first because coming out, we’re afraid of getting hit, so we have to go in backwards. If we come back here during the next meeting and someone is dead, it’s going to be a tragedy.”

Other residents suggested that a major change that should take place to alleviate some of the traffic issues, is the reopening of Rockaway Freeway between Beach 59th and 62nd Streets. “If we’re gonna consider anything, we need to consider opening up Rockaway Freeway,” local Florence Ferguson said.

The discussion is expected to be at the top of the agenda for the April Community Board 14 meeting.

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