Thursday, October 1, 2009

Roosevelt Island Riverwalk Parking Problems Exacerbated By Goldwater Hospital's Decision To Prohibit Weekend Parking On Adjacent Street And Lot

Empty Weekend Street On Queens Side Of Coler

Some Southtown residents living in Roosevelt Island's Riverwalk buildings are not very happy with the lack of parking spaces close to their apartments. They complain of very few street parking spots and being too far from the Motorgate Parking garage for it to be convenient.

As a result, they have been parking on the Queens side street adjacent to Goldwater Hospital on weekends, when the street is nearly empty of employees and visitors, but have recently been advised of a decision by Goldwater to prohibit weekend parking on the that side of their facility.

Last Sunday afternoon, I took a walk over to Goldwater Hospital and found the street parking nearly empty except for one lone person fishing,

and the parking lots empty as well.

A Riverwalk resident sent a message to RIRA President Frank Farance, myself and the Main Street WIRE regarding parking problems in Southtown, particularly those caused by the recent decision of Goldwater Hospital to prohibit weekend parking on the Queens side of their facility. Below is the message.
Dear Mr. Farance

I, like many residents of Southtown, keep my automobile in the Motorgate parking garage. However, on weekends, when we often use the car for several trips, I have frequently parked it on the street near Goldwater Hospital, on the Queens side. If I lived in the WIRE buildings or in Manhattan Park, I would not have a problem parking in Motorgate in between such trips, but it is a different story when you live at Southtown‘s southern end. Our distance from Motorgate is such that it takes at least 18 minutes to park there and walk back, whereas it takes just 6 minutes to park at Goldwater and walk back. As is true in general on Main Street, it is very difficult to find parking on the street near our buildings; longer-term parking, such as overnight on Saturday, is out of the question with the metering system.

Until recently, parking near Goldwater was prohibited Monday through Friday, but permissible on the weekends. My guess is that it has been that way for 30 years. On Sunday, September 6, however, I noticed that the all signs were changed and parking was now for authorized vehicles only, Tow Away Zone. The signs state that the Authority agency is RIOC.

The question is, why was this change made? What authorized vehicles need to park there? I can only guess as to what lurks in the mind of RIOC (if there is such as thing as a mind of RIOC) or, more likely, the hospital administration, which may still have influence over street parking there despite having abandoned their security huts. Here are some possibilities I came up with:

1. Hospital employees and visitors need to have priority for parking. While this may be true near the principal entrance of the hospital on the Manhattan side, which is often parked up, there are easily 100 available parking spots in the hospital parking lots on the Queens side of the building. On weekends, perhaps 5-10 of these are occupied. Conclusion: there is plenty of parking on weekends.

2. The signs were put up to discourage non-residents who drive to the Island to fish, barbecue, picnic and enjoy the river view. This is absurd as well; those visitors stay very close to their parked cars. If Public Safety officers show up to ticket the car, the owners will be at their vehicles in seconds – saying that they were standing, not parking. However, there will be law abiding citizens, I’m sure. On Labor Day, I saw a group of perhaps a half-dozen Hasidic Jewish families enjoying a barbecue. As God-fearing citizens, they obeyed the signs and did not park their cars on the street. Indeed, I saw six minivans parked side by side in the nearby Goldwater parking lot! It is ironic that the result of the new parking restriction will be to encourage visitors to park in the hospital lots.

3. The signs were put up to cut down on traffic around the hospital for the safety of the wheelchair-using patients. This again is a specious argument, because the vast majority of the traffic is due to buses, employees, hospital visitors, and picnickers/fishermen, and the parking restrictions will not change the situation significantly. Moreover, because we residents are mindful of the fact that there are many wheelchair users in the vicinity, we drive carefully. The occasional visitors present much more of a problem in this regard. In addition, the roadway is wide in this area, so there is plenty of room for delivery trucks, busses and wheelchairs, for that matter.

4. People are taking advantage of the situation and parking at Goldwater for extended periods for free. I think it is perfectly legitimate and desirable for RIOC to prohibit parking on weekdays to prevent residents from parking there permanently. Public Safety should ticket the cars of those who do.

Finally, the parking restrictions do not simply create an unnecessary inconvenience for the residents who park there each weekend to save time, they add to the traffic on Main Street. Most of the time, when we take our autos from Motorgate, we drive back to our buildings to pick up our children and our parcels before heading off the island. If we can park nearby between trips, we will not need to disturb our neighbors in the WIRE buildings by constantly driving back and forth.

In summary, we in Southtown demand that the recently imposed parking restrictions on the Queens side of Goldwater Hospital be rescinded. Parking availability will only get worse in Southtown when the two new buildings are fully occupied. This is especially important, because RIOC did not grant permission for Hudson/Related to build the parking garage they requested for their buildings, unlike that granted to the Octagon’s developer. Moreover, there is a gravel lot near Lighthouse Park that residents and visitors on the North end of the island use on weekends. It is clearly discriminatory that the situation should it be different at our end of the island.
In response, RIOC President Steve Shane replied:
The signs were a replacement of the old faded signs which, at the request of hospital personnel, state "no parking except for authorized vehicles". Since the perimeter streets are under RIOC's jurisdiction, necessary for the signs to be posted by RIOC. The hospital is concerned with availability of parking for staff and visitors. A joint meeting produced the instant signs.

Anyone who parks there, weekends or otherwise, does so at their own risk.
I followed up with this:
I am told that the parking spots on the Queens side of the Hospital are not usually used by Hospital staff or visitors on weekends which is why some from Southtown have been able to park there.

As to anyone parking there "at their own risk" - what does that mean? Will RIOC ticket these cars? Since this area is not part of RIOC's jurisdiction, is Public Safety authorized to do so?
Mr. Shane replied:
Yes, rioc can issue tickets wherever it is unlawful to park.
In an effort to be a good neighbor, Goldwater Hospital might want to reconsider their decision to ban Roosevelt Islanders from parking on their adjacent street and/or parking lot on weekends when they are empty.

Above, Queens Side Coler Street And Lot Empty Of Parking On Weekends, but below

crowded with employees and visitors during the week.


Anonymous said...

Am I the only one to think that having no convenient parking space for cars is actually a good thing? The less convenient it is to keep a car maybe the less cars we'll have on the streets. What's with the entitlement when it comes to cars?

Anonymous said...

if you live in NYC (mainly Manhtn, which in this case RI is part of Manhtn) you prob shouldn't have a vehicle.

Anonymous said...

I did not know that :
RIOC did not grant permission for Hudson/Related to build the parking garage they requested for their buildings

What was the reason for that ?



I believe the reason RIOC denied permission to build a parking garage in Southtown is that it is not included in General Development Plan though I am not sure about this.

Also, I agree with first two comments that less cars and parking would be better for Roosevelt Island

Anonymous said...

While I agree that it is generally better to have fewer cars on the island, the ability to park at Coler over the weekends will not encourage people to buy cars or bring them to the island if they would not have otherwise - those same people will still have to pay for parking at Motorgate during the week.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous at 6:26 is correct, but probably meant Goldwater, not Coler. Cars on the island are here to stay.

As the original letter said, if residents in Southtown can park at Goldwater on the weekend, after shopping at Costco on Saturday, they will not return the car to Motorgate, only to take the car out to drive it on Saturday night or Sunday. This would reduce car traffic on Main Street, lower pollution, save gas, etc.

In view of the photos of the empty parking lots, the statement that the hospital complained about the parking sounds fishy to me.

Anonymous said...

6:26pm. You are right it is not going to encourage anybody to buy more cars BUT not having convenient parking could discourage somebody to get one while living in Southtown. Just like living in Manhattan discourages many people of owning a car in general.

Anonymous said...

10:07pm: Not using your own car but using a car share if really needed instead would lower pollution, save gas, decrease traffic etc. Maybe make weekend plans that do not involve driving around.

Anonymous said...

Boo hoo. My heart cries for them. Didn't they investigate the parking situation BEFORE they bought/rented their apartment? I have lived on RI for ten years and in all those years, having learned to read English at an early age, I read the signs and they were very clear that parking was allowed ONLY for hospital employees with permits. In addition, it stated that NO parking was allowed on weekends.

So, find something else to complain about.
Stuart Chenkin
575 Main Street

Anonymous said...

I agree with Stuart Chenkin's comment.

I have lived on R.I.more than 10 years and in the early days traffic moved smoothly on Main St
because parking was only allowed for handicapped,loadng & unloading AND rules were enforced.
Furthermore RIOC/PSD vehicles were kept off Main St.

It would be a great step forward to revert to the original limits and enforce them IF/WHEN the signs on Main St are finally replaced and better co-ordinated.

Think "what will it do for the is-land" not "what will it do for me"

Unknown said...

Wow- why are you people so damn bitter about cars? Just because you don't own one doesn't me I and others cannot, geez.

Have you considered that some people need a car for a large family, or they carry alot of things in the trunk, or maybe they have a medical disability.. OR, maybe they just want to have a damn car!

I understand that the parking situation in Manhattan and RI sucks but if it doesn't cause a problem and doesn't directly interfere with public traffic or hospital traffic, I don't see the harm in letting people park across from the hospital.

I don't know about some people but I work in Queens but have to take two 20 pound boxes home with me every day going to and from work along with a backpack to carry my personal things and guess what? I'm sure as hell not going to try lugging that stuff on the subway/bus or take a cab everyday.

Anonymous said...

There are people that NEED a car. Nobody argues that. There are people that WANT a car. So be it but suck it up that owning a car can be very inconvenient. In the end because how cars made it into our society and how dangerous it has become there needs to be a development to a) encourage/make people ditch their cars and b) motivate people to seek out alternative means of transportation.

Can you imagine, Barinthus, that there are a million reasons why somebody can be bitter about cars? Maybe you are okay with how Main Street looks like, or how going crosstown Manhattan by bus can be nerve-wrecking and slow. Maybe for you it is okay that cars block the box because otherwise they are not able to get their turn while making pedestrians walk into dangerous traffic. Maybe the pollution that these cars create is okay with you.
I am glad that there are a lot of people who are not and try to do something about it.

There are a lot of social reasons why parking at the hospital should not be allowed. I guess I am naive to think that it is prohibited for all the right reasons while in the end it is just a communication problem or what ever.

Anonymous said...

Why is it every time someone comments on a blog or in the Wire, and they indicate they are a "long-time resident" of RI, the comment is guaranteed to be 1) resentful of anything not conforming to the idyllic early years of residence on RI and 2) cynically gleeful about anything that surprises or annoys newcomers to the island? Just wondering.

Anonymous said...

I am not a long-term resident and I am all for the no parking rule all across Roosevelt Island. I am glad that there are issues where old-timers and new-comers see eye to eye.

Anonymous said...


I respect your special situation but do not understand why you did not pick a place with nearby parking (Manhattan Park) instead of a place where you have to change the existing conditions.

Anonymous said...

Without a doubt there would be less traffic if you can park near Southtown instead of going back and forth. Instead of the public good you long term residents,with your rhetoric, may actually unite southtown residents to have a voice in this community. If you truly want to be fair and reduce traffic, Southtown residents should be given a red bus stop on the Queens side by the Riverwalk buildings. After all, all you other residents have very close stops to your buildings. We too have to carry parcels, have elderly and some have disabilities too. Our closest stop is the subway. Let's see a decrease in the number of bus stops in mid island, which will increase the flow of traffic- what's a few more steps to your buildings right? Oh wait, you have been here a long time, I forgot. But then again, how could I forget, you never let us newbies to the island ever forget that fact. Your jealousy is very unattractive.

Anonymous said...

You have the subway and the tram stop. But, yes, I think the bus should also stop on the Queens side of the loop. I've always been in favor for an arrangement like that.

Anonymous said...

I used to live in a building in the heart of Main St. that was a short walk to the Motorgate (where I park my car.) I had to take the bus to the Tram or Subway.

I now live in Riverwalk and can walk to the Tram & Subway, but take the bus to the Motorgate (to get my car). It's a trade off. You can't have it both ways here. Pick one and live with it.