Group criticizes DOT rollout in Ridgewood
Residents hope for pedestrian ramp at Stanhope & Fairview
By Jessica Meditz
As of Dec. 1, the troublesome intersection near Grover Cleveland Park in Ridgewood, where a man was killed in 2019, has brand new crosswalks and stop signs.
After spending the better part of 2022 fighting for these safety signals and pleading with the Department of Transportation (DOT), Ridgewood residents Nicole Galpern and Becca Kauffman have achieved their “Crosswalk Fantasy” at Stanhope Street and Fairview Avenue.
The duo co-founded Crosswalk Fantasy Committee in response to the man’s death and a public unease about the lack of safety in that intersection.
It wasn’t much longer after their celebrations, which included a “Party at the Crosswalk,” lots of signage and high visibility workwear fashion statements, that a local civic group pointed out what they saw was missing: a pedestrian ramp.
Juniper Park Civic Association took to Twitter on Saturday, Jan. 7 to point out the omitted part of the job and call on Councilman Robert Holden to take action.
“Kind of weird to see supposed safety advocates ‘proclaim a crosswalk fantasy realized’ when there’s no pedestrian ramp here. Half-assed @NYC_DOT jobs should never be celebrated,” the group tweeted. “@BobHoldenNYC hopefully will see that the job gets done.”
During their communication process with the DOT, Galpern and Kauffman turned to local leaders to help spearhead their efforts, including Holden and Gary Giordano, district manager of Community Board 5 – both of whom penned letters of support for the implementation of crosswalks and stop signs at the intersection.
Daniel Kurzyna, Holden’s chief of staff, said that from his recollection, he does not remember the topic of a pedestrian ramp coming up explicitly, but only because he thinks it’s a given that a ramp should be installed, also.
“Naturally, when a crosswalk is installed, it should be paired with a pedestrian ramp…We’ll be reaching out to the DOT about this,” he said.”
Galpern and Kauffman told the Queens Ledger that they asked the DOT for a “redesign of the intersection,” which should have included the pedestrian ramp.
“We’d be thrilled if [Holden] sent the DOT a letter of support for a pedestrian ramp,” they said.
Pedestrian ramps are a requirement under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), and the DOT says on their webpage that “any alteration triggers the obligation to provide ADA-compliant ramps to the maximum extent feasible.”
Despite some pushback from Twitter user, @BushridgeBrigad, who accused JPCA of mocking the Crosswalk Fantasy Committee, the civic association maintains that its criticism is of the DOT for not completing the job.
Christina Wilkinson, JPCA secretary, said she takes issue with the Committee’s signage that was left up weeks after their “Party at the Crosswalk.”
“It should be noted that bolting laminated signs to public property and flyers on poles is illegal, could result in Sanitation fines and illegal postering makes it harder for community groups to maintain the cleanliness of the neighborhood,” she said.
In another Twitter reply, JPCA argued that it’s a positive thing that more safety measures were implemented, but “no community minded group posts illegal signage bragging about a routine civic request being fulfilled.”
Kurzyna assures that Holden is committed to ensuring the safety of those in the area.
“Our office is actively reaching out to the DOT to inquire about the progress of installing pedestrian ramps at Stanhope Street and Fairview Avenue,” he said. “The installation of crosswalks at this location was an important step forward, and we will continue advocating for better measures that keep our community safe.”