QUEENS — A Rego Park activist who has been pushing for traffic safety measures in her neighborhood may be hit with a fine if she does not remove a sign she placed in front of her house asking drivers to slow down, the city said.
Yvonne Shortt, executive director of the Rego Park Green Alliance Studio, a nonprofit focused on community-oriented projects, installed the sign which reads “Drive Slowly” about a month ago in front of her house at 61-33 Alderton St.
The sign was created by local students whose names are also listed on it, she said.
“It’s a temporary installation,” Shortt said. “We got kids from different schools to create an illustration so that we could capture attention, get people to slow down and engage them in conversation around what we could do here as a community.”
But the sign drew attention of the Department of Buildings instead, whose investigator measured it during an inspection Wednesday, and told Shortt’s 65-year-old mother who was home at that time that it had to be taken down immediately — otherwise she would be fined, according to Shortt, who spoke to the investigator on the phone.
He also told her it was the second time he came to the location and that he would send an official notice in a couple of days, according to Shortt.
The DOB said that it received a referral complaint about the sign from Community Board 6 and that it will issue a zoning violation for it.
Under city rules, property owners cannot put up signage larger than 12 square feet in a residential area. The sign in front of 61-33 Alderton St. is 24 square-feet, according to the DOB.
The standard fine for the offense is $800, but if Shortt removes the sign within 40 days, and proves it to the agency, she won’t be fined, the DOB said Thursday.
Shortt said she placed the sign because her 5-years-long effort to install stop signs on Alderton Street have not brought any results, she said.
Although according to city's Vision Zero map, no injuries or fatalities have been reported along the street since 2009, Shortt claims that a lot of drivers are speeding there as they try to make the light at nearby Woodhaven Boulevard. She also said it's so narrow that two cars can barely pass each other.
Frank Gulluscio, district manager at Community Board 6, said that the board “is aware of the fact that there are concerns up and down Alderton Street,” and noted that the board referred them to the Department of Transportation.
But the DOT said that last August the board sent the agency a letter saying that its Transportation Committee voted that “the street should remain unchanged at this time.”
The agency also said that last year it conducted a speed hump study for Alderton Street between 62nd Avenue and Yellowstone Boulevard and found it was not feasible because there were too many curb cuts and driveways.
There is, however, one speed hump between Ellwell and Dieterle crescents, the DOT said.
Shortt said that as of Thursday she has not received any notice in writing from the Department of Buildings, but added that she was planning to create a smaller sign that would replace the one currently installed in front of her house.
“We believe Alderton Street is too narrow and allows cars to go too fast,” she said. “We hope we can count on CB6 and the DOT to make it safer transportation-wise.”