Tag Archive | "Morris park"

Facebook Complaints About Valet Parking Spur Action

Residents of Community District 11 have complained about valet parking on a Community Board Facebook page. (ANDREW FREEDMAN/The Bronx Ink)

The Bronx’s Community Board 11 is used to taking complaints at Community Board meetings. In the digital age, social media sites make it easier to discuss issues without ever leaving your computer. With an official Community Board Facebook page, residents chose to air their grievances on a parking issue digitally.

The Community Board is reacting to one such complaint after finding comments on the Facebook page regarding concerns about valet parking at two restaurants and a catering hall on Bronxdale Avenue in the Morris Park and Van Nest neighborhoods.

The first mention of the issue appeared on the Facebook page on April 19. The comment thread has since grown to over 80 responses, though some of those are the result of repeat posters. The comments call out two restaurants, 900 Park and F&J Pine, and Maestro’s, a caterer and banquet hall, for taking up all of the parking along Bronxdale Avenue, double parking and blocking residents’ driveways.

Robert Giuffre, a teacher from Morris Park who posted comments on the Facebook thread and lives a few blocks away from Bronxdale Avenue, said that even driving along the street is difficult and dangerous. He claimed that the four-lane road often becomes a one-way street and that drivers have to be careful to avoid valets.

Not all of the business owners and managers, however, know about the complaints.

Mike DeFalco, general manager at F&J Pine, which specializes in family style Italian cuisine, said that he hasn’t heard any complaints personally. He explained that the restaurant has two parking lots exclusively for valet parking – one adjacent to the building and one about a block away – which lets them keep some cars off of the street. Otherwise, he said, the valet parkers only use space in front of the building. DeFalco estimated that on a busy evening, 150 cars might be valeted.

“Some folks still tend to self park,” he said. “That’s where the headaches come from. They’re not utilizing our parking lots.”


View Bronxdale Avenue Valet Traffic in a larger map

At 900 Park, restaurant managers have heard complaints. Zitta Ferriello, the wife of owner John Ferriello, helps manage the restaurant and has seen the issue brought up on District 11’s Facebook page.

“I feel like I’m being attacked,” she said. “We’re the little people.”

John Ferriello said he hadn’t seen or heard any complaints, but he isn’t on Facebook. The Ferriellos said that on a busy night, they tend to valet four or five cars, generally (but not always) elderly patrons, and sometimes park blocks away. They said that when the Rite Aid store across the street closes, 900 Park uses it, as the gates are left open. John Ferriello said that if he could find an affordable parking lot in the area, it would be better for their business and the community.

“I would love to have a parking lot,” he said. “More people would come.”

Following multiple visits and phone calls to Maestro’s Caterers and talking with employees – including the banquet manager, who said he would pass on questions, The Bronx Ink managed to get a hold of the owner. He refused to comment for this story. Maestros’ Caterers is considered by members of the Community Board, various Facebook users and other businesses to be the biggest problem.

In New York City, parking in a traffic lane or having a vehicle sticking out eight feet into a traffic lane can lead to a fine of $115 per incident. Double parking (parking on the side of a car parked at the curb) can also lead to a fine of $115 per incident.

The Community Board is taking the complaints seriously. According to district manager Jeremy Warneke and Joseph A. Thompson, the community board chair of the economic development committee, valet parking issues have come up in prior years.

They don’t refute the validity of people’s complaints, but do want the conversation to leave the virtual world and enter the real one.

“There’s less of a need to show up at actual meetings,” Warneke said. “Email has, technology has done a lot to take care of that. But face-to-face interaction is crucial.”

Thompson will be investigating the issue. He was forwarded the messages by community board chair of parks and recreation and Facebook page founder Joanne Rubino.

“The first thing we’re gonna do is we’ll call in the people who had the complaints,” Thompson said. “Facebook is something that is used by a lot of people… I like to speak to people in person.” He said the ability to ask questions and see how serious they are about the issue is important.

After that, the owners of the businesses will be called in to discuss the matter. If it is found that violations are being committed, then police action will be taken. Thompson said that he will be researching any violations or accidents in the previous year.

“The most important part of this is… safety,” he said. The second most important part, he said, is parking in people’s driveways, blocking them out of their homes.

The mediation process is in its infancy, but it has begun. Warneke visited 900 Park on Sept. 20 and discussed the issue. Both claimed that it was a composed meeting.

“She’s aware of the Facebook page, most importantly,” Warneke said. “They’re aware of the problems themselves, and that was good.”

Posted in North Central Bronx, TransportationComments (0)

Van Nest Library Asked to Do More With Less

As technology needs grow, the budgets of public libraries continue to shrink. (ANDREW FREEDMAN/The Bronx Ink)

It is never easy to provide more services with less money, but the Van Nest branch of the New York Public Library is trying to figure out how to do so.

In the case of the three branches in Community District 11 of the Bronx, the social and technological needs of the residents have grown every year, while the budgets of the libraries have shrunk.

The library manager at the Van Nest branch on Barnes Avenue said that he is starting to feel the squeeze from years of modest cuts. Last year, the city library system was operating with a $245 million budget, down by $118 million from two years earlier.

“Three or four years of modest cuts in a row has significantly eroded the budget,” said David Nochimson. He said that the branch reduced hours in 2010 and is working with a smaller staff.

Data regarding specific branches is not available, though Nochimson explained it covers little else besides staff salaries and office supplies.

While there have been no layoffs at his branch, some positions such as part-time pages have been eliminated as people left their positions. Four years ago, Van Nest had six part-time pages – students who shelve books, assist patrons with technology and complete other tasks that keep the library running smoothly. In 2011, they were down to one. They have managed to hire one more since.

“When someone retires or leaves they just don’t replace them,” said Jeffrey M. Panish, a volunteer at the Van Nest branch. “They expect more service out of less people.”

The New York Public Library System has faced modest budget cuts since 2009. Another cut is planned for the 2013 fiscal year. (ANDREW FREEDMAN/The Bronx Ink)

The Van Nest branch is also consolidating service desks. Previously, their service desk was combined with their children’s desk. That desk will be combined with circulation. Plans are for the children’s section to be manned for fewer hours with a librarian at a desk on wheels.

This all occurs as the libraries of Community District 11 face a changing role, accommodating the needs of teenagers and children who like to socialize – popular visitors after school – as well as older patrons who prefer the quiet that is customary to libraries.

“Gone are the days of the ‘shh’ and the quiet areas,” said Denise Lyles, the library manager at the Allerton branch on Barnes Avenue between Arnow Avenue and Allerton Avenue. She said her library served as an unofficial day camp for neighborhood kids during the summer. They provided activities and programs including time playing video games and other games like UNO, in addition to their usual services.

At the Morris Park branch – just under a mile from the Van Nest branch – library manager Sandy W. Henry said her staff tends to be very busy. Their community room is often turned into a “homework zone” in the afternoons, while programs for older patrons, such as book discussions and lectures, are held earlier in the day.

Nochimson has a unique problem in that the Van Nest branch’s community room isn’t on a separate floor. Instead, it’s behind a glass wall. This allows Nochimson and his staff to keep an eye on children, but it doesn’t prevent noise or music from travelling. He said, however, that constant communication with both kids and adults helps keep the peace.

“We want to make it clear that we see a distinction between social interaction and disruptive behavior,” he said.

The libraries in Morris Park and Allerton have not yet felt constrained by the budget cuts, according to their library managers. Lyles admitted she would like to see more computers in her library, but had no other complaints. Henry suggested that her library may have been spared from cuts due to high circulation and attendance. The New York Public Library’s administration did not return several calls seeking comment regarding how its budget is allocated to individual branches and whether that involves circulation and attendance.

District Manager Jeremy Warneke said that he thinks Nochimson does well with the changing needs of patrons and is especially good with the needs of children.

Nochimson acknowledges that the work is hard and that his staff has been experiencing crossover in their job responsibilities. But with some sacrifice, everything manages to work.

“We need to be able to deploy our staff in this more efficient way,” he said. “We’re now expected to help each other out as needed.”

Posted in Bronx Beats, Culture, Front Page, North Central BronxComments (0)

Morris Park Preps Street For Columbus Day Parade, Bronx Times

A volunteer committee have been busy prepping the streets of Morris Park for Columbus Day, the Bronx Times reports.

The parade, which is expected to be the second biggest in New York City, sets off at noon from Morris Park Avenue and White Plains Road and marches to Williamsbridge Road on Sunday, October 9.

“The Bronx Columbus Day provides our community the opportunity to showcase and celebrate the achievements and culture of our Italian American community,” Senator Jeff Klein said.

Posted in NewswireComments (0)