Congressman Hakeem Jeffries’ office, abandoned vehicles and traffic were the primary topics of discussion at the Mill Island Civic Association’s last meeting for the season, held on April 27th at Temple Sholom on Avenue U.
Jeffries’ Constituent Services Director Frieda Menos visited the meeting to share greetings and information from the congressman’s office. Due to redistricting, Jeffries’ district boundaries have changed, but Mill Island and Mill Basin are remaining within the 8th Congressional District. Howard Beach, Queens, is now no longer in his district.
“The congressman, as you know, his district changed, but thankfully effective January, this area remained in his district,” Menos said. “He’s just so happy that he will be able to continue to represent the folks in Bergen Beach and in Mill Island and Mill Basin.”
The office has high school programs with the U.S. Service Academy that allow teens to be nominated for the U.S. Naval Academy, West Point and other Armed Forces academies. The area has had many kids over the years participate in this program, so Jeffries wants to make sure all interested families apply.
As usual, abandoned vehicles were brought up at the meeting — but this time in a positive light. In contrast with the usual complaints about abandoned cars, the local officers were happy to report that a tow operation on April 19th removed 32 abandoned vehicles from parking spots in the neighborhood.
Unfortunately, trailers and car carriers being left around the community are still an issue, but the officers and Councilwoman Mercedes Narcisse’s office are working to crack down on them.
Another hot topic at the meeting was about traffic, mostly near the Kings Plaza Shopping Center. The congestion is partly due to dollar vans, partly due to cars standing or parking in areas they’re not supposed to be and partly due to the local bus routes.
Along the mall’s Avenue U side, there are “no parking” and “no standing” signs. These are often ignored, especially by people sitting in their cars waiting for curbside pickup for large purchases from Macy’s. The local traffic safety officers regularly ticket cars illegally parked or standing on this strip, in addition to the ever-present dollar vans.
Neighborhood Coordination Officer (NCO) David Belkin explained that he feels the root of the issue is that the Flatbush Avenue and Avenue U intersection and the Kings Plaza bus terminal need to be “reengineered” for better traffic flow.
Buses on both avenues need to cross several lanes in order to make turns and often get stuck in non-turning lanes or in the process of turning, which causes traffic to be backed up, sometimes all the way to the Belt Parkway.
Belkin has advocated for the area to be reengineered by the Department of Transportation (DOT), which would be a lengthy process if ever taken up. “What I really tried to do was try to get the entire, between the terminal for the bus stop and Avenue U, I’ve been trying to get these guys to reengineer everything,” Belkin said. “What we need to do, as you guys in the community, need to get in touch with DOT and see if they can really try to help you guys get that whole entire strip readjusted, reengineered. I put my word in; it’s your turn now.”