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End of the road for Pelham Parkway residents

Bronx Times

It looks like it is the end of the road for residents of Pelham Parkway south.

A judge last week granted the city’s motion to dismiss the law suit filed by a dozen local residents to rip up the sidewalk installed along the mall side of the parkway during major parkway re-construction.

Supreme Court Justice Howard Sherman dismissed the law suit, which claims the new sidewalk dangerously narrows the southside service road to emergency vehicles.

He dismissed the suit, however, on the grounds that is was filed after the four-month filing deadline.

The judge noted in his written decision that the petitioners “saw the actual construction commence, watched it proceed, and by April 2012, witnessed its completion. All the while, neighborhood residents collected petitions, and communicated with public officials, and met with various officials and met with various officials and the local community board, yet petitioners still waited almost six months before commencing this proceeding.”

As for installation for a similar sidewalk on the service road of Pelham Parkway north, the Department of Design and Construction said it is still unclear whether one will be installed there as well.

“The Pelham Parkway North project is still in design and plans are still being developed,” said a spokesperson for DDC. “After the plans are reviewed by various agencies, the plans will be made available to the community board and we’ll make a presentation. Construction is expected to begin in the summer of 2014.”

“We are very surprised and disappointed in the court’s decision,” said Will Madonna, attorney for the 16 plaintiffs. “We will continue to weigh our legal options.”

Dr. David Stevens, one of the plaintiffs and owner of an orthodontist practice on the parkway, said the community is disappointed that Judge Sherman’s “narrow interpretation of the statute of limitation played into DDC’s plan of stalling the public with months of misinformation.”

“We find it rather astonishing that one city agency – the judicial system – would be so rigid in judgment against the people of our community and yet another agency, DDC, can be so sloppy with their road design that five feet of lost roadway (accessing a hospital) and ignorance of written FDNY guidelines can be callously ignored by this administration.”

He called on the City Council “to establish an investigatory oversight committee to scrutinize the competency of DDC’s design group.”

City lawyers first filed a motion to dismiss the case in January.

Work on the five-foot-wide sidewalk, running along the parkway service road from White Plains Road to Jacobi Medical Center, began in January 2012.

Resident and local officials immediately became concerned, claiming the street would be too narrow, and that the city never disclosed its plan to add a sidewalk to the road.

City agencies argued the narrower road is the same width as “literally thousands” of other city streets, which fire and other emergency vehicles manage to use.

In June, the City Department of Design and Construction issued a statement saying the new sidewalks comply with city standards and would not be ripped up.

City officials argue that even with narrower streets, FDNY fire trucks can still get through safely.

But opponents, including Community Board 11 and the Uniformed Firefighters Association, disagreed arguing on top of losing already scarce corner parking spaces, the sidewalk makes getting to fires at hi-rise apartments lining the roadway just plain dangerous.

Other concerns included tower ladders now have no room to extend their stabilizers to keep them from tipping while trying to reach hi-rise floors, and firefighters can’t reach their equipment when compartment doors become wedged in from cars parked on both sides of the narrowed street.

Kirsten Sanchez can be reach via e-mail at ksanchez@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 742-3394

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