HUNTERS POINT — A proposal to bring street sweepers to Long Island City has some residents panicked over alternate side parking, which they say would make finding a spot a nightmare in a neighborhood where it's already difficult to park.
Last year, hundreds of residents in Hunters Point signed an online petition calling for Department of Sanitation street sweepers in the waterfront neighborhood. The group says their streets are filthy, and that the current lack of parking rules allows non-residents to leave their cars in the same spots for weeks at a time.
But other residents say they'd rather put up with a little trash than deal with the harrowing prospect of alternate side parking, and having to shuffle their cars back and forth every day.
"It's a curse on neighborhoods," said Nigel Rollings, who has lived on 47th Avenue for 33 years and relies on a car for his landscape design business. Parking is already a trial in the neighborhood without alternate side regulations, he said.
"I am constantly having to strategize and be worried about where I can find a spot to park," he said.
A street cleaning plan is being explored by Queens Community Board 2 and City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, who asked the Department of Sanitation to come up with a strategy for the neighborhood after getting numerous complaints about dirty streets.
"This is something that we have asked for, responding to requests from the community," CB2 Chairman Joseph Conley said at a community meeting Wednesday.
Representatives from the Department of Sanitation detailed a proposal that would bring street cleaning to a swath of Hunters Point west of Jackson Avenue, between 45th and Borden avenues.
The sweepers would come twice a week, cleaning the south and east sides of the streets on Wednesdays and the north and west sides on Thursdays. Streets in the area south of 47th Road would be cleaned from 9 to 10:30 a.m. while streets to the north would be cleaned between 11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m.
Metered blocks would be cleaned in half-hour segments between 7:30 and 9 a.m.
Some residents supported the plan as a way to stop out-of-towners from using Hunters Point as a parking garage, leaving their cars parked for long stretches of time.
Dr. Moitri Savard, a family doctor on 50th Avenue, said parked cars make it hard for her to keep the street in front of her office garbage-free.
"I can't get underneath the cars. And trying to pull plastic bags from underneath tires — I’ve done it, and my patients think I’m insane," she told the crowd, saying she's seen the litter problem get worse in recent years.
"In terms of public health, the things that we see on the streets getting into kids eyes — If I have to see another 2 or 3-year-old picking up a cigarette butt — I think it's time. We need to have our streets cleaned," she said.
But opponents of the idea say they'd rather see other solutions to the issue, like better enforcement against cars parked for weeks, a public campaign to fight littering, or the creation of a municipal parking lot to provide some relief.
"I plan my whole day around knowing when I'm going to get a parking spot," said longtime resident Doreen Dwyer, who said she doesn't see enough garbage around the neighborhood to warrant the street sweepers.
Some critics of street cleaning said they plan to start their own petition to counter the one in support of it.
CB2 Chairman Conley and Van Bramer reminded the crowd that the plan was just a proposal, and that they're looking for feedback from the community before going forward.
"This is not a done deal," Van Bramer said. "That's why we had this meeting."