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Sidewalk Congestion and Traffic at Fairway a 'Travesty,' Neighbors Say

By Amy Zimmer | June 22, 2012 8:05am
Moustafa Eissawy had been ousted from his spot in front of Fairway in July, when he was arrested, and again when he returned in October.
Moustafa Eissawy had been ousted from his spot in front of Fairway in July, when he was arrested, and again when he returned in October.
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DNAinfo/Amy Zimmer

YORKVILLE — Upper East Siders have been flocking to Fairway for its produce, cheese and prices.

Its popularity, however, is also angering some residents, who claim the nearly year-old branch on East 86th Street has brought just what they feared — a traffic nightmare.

Even before the supermarket moved in, members of the East 86th Street Association had expressed concerns about truck traffic and sidewalk congestion around the popular market. They said they sat down with the supermarket to share their concerns and that Fairway officials promised to keep the streets and sidewalks clutter-free.

But the civic group has been getting “constant complaints,” members said.

“We really tried to work with Fairway,” Teri Slater, a board member of the East 86th Street Association, told DNAinfo. “They’re cluttering the sidewalks. The double-parking of delivery trucks is slowing traffic down. There are forklifts on the street: It looks industrial, not residential.”

Slater said residents have been complaining about noise, congestion and the loading and unloading. The community granted Fairway extended loading hours because the store has to share space with nearby businesses that lost curb space because of the Second Avenue subway construction.

“People really are quite unhappy,” Slater said. “We want to continue working with them. The name Fairway is very important to us. We just want them to be a better neighbor.”

Slater said she shops at Fairway — but she avoids the East 86th Street location.

“I shop at the 132nd Street location,” she said at a Community Board 8 meeting on Wednesday. “I will not shop at 86th Street until they clean up their act.” 

She added: “They are going back on their word and it’s a terrible travesty on 86th Street.”

Others agreed.

“They are regularly non-compliant,” CB 8 member Michele Birnbaum said at the meeting. “The street is filled with not only their inventory, but their shopping carts [and] their fork lifts. Trucks are routinely double-parked.”

A Fairway spokeswoman was not available for comment.

On the Upper West Side, residents had long complained about street overcrowding because of the Fairway on Broadway near West 74th Street, but the company built a new warehouse in Harlem to reduce the number of truck trips to that shop. Officials promised that the Upper East Side location would limit the use of pallets on the sidewalks by having carts that will be stocked in the Harlem warehouse, which can be directly loaded into the store.

Unlike the Upper West Side’s store, the East 86th Street branch does not sell produce on the sidewalk.

CB 8 member Barbara Rudder defended Fairway, putting the blame on supermarkets and other stores in the neighborhood at large.

“Even though there are negatives with it,” she said, “outside the Food Emporium on 87th Street near where I live, I hear horrible idling noise.” She also pointed fingers at the array of chains on East 86th Street that create traffic and noise.

“Part of the reason [Fairway] has the traffic,” she said, “is the neighborhood loves it. I can tell you it’s changed the area. People love food.”