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Rally against dangerous Pelham Parkway sidewalk

Bronx Times

A legal road block maybe in the way of ripping up a dangerous Pelham Parkway South sidewalk.

A dozen local residents gathered on the steps on the Bronx County Court House on Monday, Jan. 14 to rally in support of their year long plea to rip up the sidewalk, installed along the mall side of the parkway during major parkway re-constructiont.

City lawyers argued before Supreme Court Justice Howard Sherman that the lawsuit, which claims the new sidewalk dangerously narrows Pelham Parkway South to emergency vehicles, should be dismissed because it was filed after the four-month filing deadline.

William Madonna, attorney for the 16 plaintiffs, argued the suit was filed well within that time.

“The city is making a motion to have the residents’ petition dismissed because of the statute of limitations, which they claim was four months from March. But we’re saying it should be from June because that’s the last correspondence that city made with Councilman Vacca, saying that they were not going to resolve any issues with the sidewalk.”

Madonna said he expected a judge’s ruling soon.

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

As the sidewalk began to appear, 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, during public meetings in April.

City agencies argue the narrower road is the same width as “literally thousands” of other city streets.

Madonna filed a an Article 78 proceeding in September, calling for the city to rip up the sidewalk and repave the street.

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, disagree.

Besides having to lose already scarce corner parking spaces so the rigs can make tight turns from side streets, the sidewalk makes getting to fires at hi-rise apartments lining the roadway just plain dangerous, they argue.

Their concerns include: 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.

“Originally I thought this road design was just a mistake,” said Dr. David Stevens, one of the plaintiffs and owner of an orthodontist practice on the parkway.

“However, now it is evident that it is intentional and throughout the city. There are other roads where this has been done. Pelham Parkway South is unique since the sidewalk is indefensible therefore exposing the ‘intent’ to disregard safety. PPS is now one of the narrowest roads in all of Morris Park community of the Bronx. It was thirty-one plus feet and is now twenty-five feet ten inches...why was it installed?”

In an April test run, firefighters were unable to turn a ladder truck from onto the narrower road.

Since then, the city removed some parking spaces, which angered residents, but enabled firefighters to make the turns.

The new sidewalk was part of a $36 million reconstruction of Pelham Parkway.

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

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