Parking,Tickets and Speed Limits, Oh My!


It might have been Council Member David Greenfield and Mayor Bill de Blasio’s night, but Polly Trottenberg, the NYC Commissioner of the Department of Transportation (DOT) stole the show.

Last night’s Town Hall at Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) High School in Borough Park was marked by questions about parking violations, parking space accessibility and speeding limits, which Trottenberg was called on to field time after time.

In particular, residents wanted to know about raising the speed limit on Ocean Parkway, creating dedicated spots for teachers at FDR High School, putting in more benches along heavy foot-trafficked areas and speed bump installations.

“I know that the speed limit in the city is 25 miles-per-hour, but Ocean Parkway is not a regular street and I think maybe you can raise the speed limit,” said Itzhak Flietcher, a Borough Park resident and frequent Ocean Parkway user.

City Councilman David Greenfield and Mayor Bill de BLasio share a light-hearted moment at last night’s Town Hall in Borough Park.

One woman on her third back surgery demanded far more benches, “I feel humiliated, I walk down the street, I sit down on people’s stoops or on people’s ledges. My doctor told me that I need to walk. I feel like this is a necessity for me and many people,” she said.

In particular, Trottenburg was quick to point out that the speed limit on Ocean Parkway would not be changing due to Mayor de Blasio’s Vision-Zero Initiative– -an action plan aimed at reducing the number of traffic fatalities and street injuries–but that she would be willing to re-asses the timing of the traffic lights in order to better address the traffic needs and increase in speeding violations of the community. 

“We’ve seen a reduction in fatalities and injuries and that is one of our chief goals,” said Trottenberg.

In fact, at one point it seemed that the only questions of the evening were regarding transportation, “This Town Hall was brought to you by Commissioner Trottenberg and the Department of Transportation,” said Greenfield, light-heartedly.

The DOT Commissioner did promise to review and assess all grievances from the meeting.

One dramatic moment of the night came when an attendee questioned the Jewish tradition of Kapparot–a practice in which a person waves a chicken around his or her head and then gives the chicken to the homeless or poor as an act of charity–that takes place on the eve of Yom Kippur.

The crowd immediately boo’ed and started heckling the man. The Mayor quickly took order of the situation and reminded everyone to be respectful of every question, whether they agreed with it or not.

At which point, Greenfield quickly retorted with a passage from the 1st Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. “I just want to quote an important passage from the United States Constitution. Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

Greenfield is a member of the Orthodox Jewish community, a Georgetown Law School graduate, attorney and former adjunct professor.

Last night’s Town Hall in District 44 (Bensonhurst, Borough Park, Midwood) is the first time in almost 80 years that a sitting Mayor has visited the area.

“I look around the room and see people who were there for the very beginning [of my political career], when I was just starting out. A lot of the people who I had the blessing and support of in the beginning, who gave me a chance to serve, are here tonight and I thank you,” said De Blasio, who once represented a part of Borough Park when he was a city councilman.

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