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Trucks Speeding and Illegally Idling Overnight by Cooper Park, Locals Say

By Meredith Hoffman | January 15, 2013 8:00am | Updated on January 15, 2013 9:22am

EAST WILLIAMSBURG — Cooper Park neighbors say they want the city to crack down on trucks that are illegally driving and idling by the still industrial neighborhood's green space.

"Trucks fly through like they own the street all day and all night," Maspeth Avenue resident Ishmael Diaz said of trucks driving on his block across from the park, where a "truck restriction" sign hangs on the corner. "And they [the trucks] stay on all night parked around the corner."

Some residents spoke up at a meeting earlier this month to ask the Department of Transportation to enforce rules against trucks riding on the residential street, and laws that are supposed to prohibit trucks from idling for longer than three minutes.

"I've been living in this neighborhood all my life and now trucks are always parked and it's always congested," said Nilsa Roman, who lives in the Cooper Park housing development and said she spoke up at the January meeting. "Kids are crossing the street to go to the park and it's not safe."

Diaz, 66, who has lived on the block the past 35 years, said truck traffic has long been an issue but that it has worsened over the past several months and has "started going crazy."

Resident Luis Gonzalez also said that trucks parked by the Cooper Park all night, and that some made noise or idled their engines.

"It can be hard to sleep because of the noise," he said. "Does it need to change? Of course."

And Maspeth Avenue resident Nick August said he worried for the safety of his dog and for kids and families around the park.

"It's freaky," he said. "These huge trucks are barreling up and down the street."

Courtney Renken, an organizer with the environmental group OUTRAGE (Organization United for Trash Reduction and Garbage Equality), noted that a new task force had formed to address truck speeding and idling law enforcement in North Brooklyn. The new task force includes local officials, the Department of Transportation the Williamsburg and Greenpoint police precincts and the industrial business group EWVIDCO.

She noted that the truck idling and speeding caused issues of "noise...health impacts and air quality" problems.

And Williamsburg Community Board 1's transportation chair Wilfredo Florentino said he hoped the new task force would help solve the longstanding truck problem.

"OUTRAGE in conjunction with Community Board 1, the local precincts and Council Member Reyna's office have been working on these issues for years," he said. "The new task force that has been created is yet another attempt to address the negative impacts of undue truck traffic in the area."

But truck driver William McGuire, who works for Feldman Lumber in the area and claims he follows "most of the rules" for trucks, said the laws can be difficult for to always obey.

"They law is against idling more than 5 minutes, but for people who sleep in their trucks, maybe they want heat or air to keep warm or to keep cool," he said to explain why truckers would leave their vehicles running.

As for the rule against driving on residential blocks of Maspeth Avenue, McGuire noted that truckers could still ride on it if they made deliveries to houses on the block.

"I'm sure people break the rules," he said.

The Department of Transportation routed questions of truck speeding and idling enforcement to the NYPD, and the NYPD did not respond immediately to requests for comment.