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Petition Seeks to Keep Cars on Astoria Park's Shore Boulevard

 A local official has proposed closing the part of Shore Boulevard that runs through Astoria Park to traffic.
A local official has proposed closing the part of Shore Boulevard that runs through Astoria Park to traffic.
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DNAinfo/Jeanmarie Evelly

DITMARS — A petition is looking to put the brakes on a proposal to ban cars from Shore Boulevard in Astoria Park.

There were more than 300 signatures Monday on a Change.org petition against Astoria Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas' suggestion to close part of the waterfront roadway to traffic, from Ditmars Boulevard to Astoria Park South.

"Many residents take their families over there to enjoy the waterfront view," the petition reads. "This is a tradition that has been happening for generations. The closing of Shore Blvd will ruin this tradition and decrease the quality of life in the neighborhoods."

Simotas penned a letter last week to the Department of Transportation asking the agency to close off the part of Shore Boulevard that runs through Astoria Park to traffic, turning the street into a pedestrian area instead and hoping to put an end to longtime complaints about speeding drivers and noisy idling cars there.

Neighborhood group Astoria Park Alliance supported the idea, and so did City Councilman Costa Constantinides, who said the area "has long been dangerous for pedestrians." There were 18 traffic accidents, four that caused injuries, on that stretch of Shore Boulevard between August 2011 and this June, NYPD data shows.

The DOT said last week that it was open to discussing the idea with the community and local stakeholders.

But not everyone is on board with proposal.

There's currently no overnight parking along Shore Boulevard, starting at midnight, and while there's a parking lot in Astoria Park near 19th Street and Hoyt Avenue North, some who signed the petition think it is too far from the waterfront for elderly or handicapped residents.

One person worried that closing the street would lead to cars filling up parking spots on nearby residential blocks, while several wrote on the online petition that taking a waterfront drive along Shore Boulevard is one of the best things about the park.

"It's so much more convenient to drive down to the park," said Janet DiChiara, who said she and her husband Ron like to park near the river to enjoy the views or take their young grandchildren to events in the park.

She said she understood the issue of traffic safety and wondered if there could be a compromise, like closing Shore Boulevard on certain days.

"Maybe just on the weekends," she said.

In a statement, Simotas said she wants to discuss the idea with the community and city agencies "in making a safer more accessible Astoria Park."

"It is important that everyone has a chance to be heard on this issue," she said "For years, residents have advocated for measures to address the conditions in Astoria Park that put pedestrians at risk and harm quality of life in the area."