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Auto dealerships located near Fourth Avenue and 94th Street — including a BMW dealer and a Volkswagen dealer — are again using the sidewalk as their own personal parking lot, residents say.
But the manager of one dealership says he has to leave the cars on the sidewalk, and the cars remain there for only a few hours.
“Currently, there is no alternative,” said Victor Sousa, general manager of Open Road Volkswagen Brooklyn, who uses the sidewalk to store cars. “The cars on the sidewalk are staged for delivery, and they usually don’t sit there for more than an hour or two. I try not to be a pig about it so they are usually gone by 5 or 6 o’clock.”
But police say leaving cars on the sidewalk will not be tolerated.
“Sidewalks are supposed to be left clear so people can walk there,” he said. “We have a lot of elderly people in the community and it’s hazardous to them.”
In the past, violators have received summonses for blocking the sidewalk, Rodriguez added.
But police sweeps come and go, and, once they stop, the violators return.
And the problem isn’t limited to car dealerships.
Valet parkers from nearby Fushimi Restaurant also use the pedestrian walkway to stow customers’ cars, resulting in a strip that’s sometimes impassable.
It’s not only a problem for pedestrians on that side of Fourth Avenue, it’s also an issue for those who need the curb cuts when they cross the street.
“You never know when they are going to be blocking the street,” said Jean Ryan, a Bay Ridge activist who uses a wheelchair. “A lot of times they block the curb cuts, too. I’ve had to wait for them to move the car. That’s not right. I really try to avoid the area but that shouldn’t be. We should be able to go on the sidewalk.”
Worst of all, the problem can be solved — legally.
Community Board 10 District Manager Josephine Beckmann said that the board was trying to encourage local businesses who offer valet parking to use the new Century 21 parking garage on 87th Street — taking advantage of a deal the board had worked out when it gave its seal of approval to the garage’s construction a couple of years back.
In fact, the Volkswagen dealership has been “looking to find an alternative lot,” Sousa said.
“But space in Brooklyn is quite limited. There are a couple of options on the table and probably within a couple of months we’ll have a permanent lot.”
By press time, neither Fushimi nor Life Quality BMW had responded to calls requesting comment.
In addition, Beckmann said, the board has asked the 68th Precinct to increase its enforcement in the area.
Deputy Inspector Eric Rodriguez, the precinct commander, said that officers from the precinct would talk to the dealerships and Fushimi.
“It’s something we have to revisit, and we will revisit it,” he promised.
©2010 Community Newspaper Group
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