November/December 1994, p.9

Local Track

Drive Thru Library?
On October 1, a car crashed into the Brooklyn Public library's Spring Creek branch, and demolished 14 feet of brick wall. The car also destroyed the building's heating, hot water, and electrical systems. The library branch is closed indefinitely while repairs are in progress, and patrons are being directed to other branches.

Illegal Park Driver Kills Woman in Westchester, Goes Free
A Bronx teenager, Simone Marshall, killed a woman while illegally driving in Glen Island Park in New Rochelle. Marshall was driving her family's car with her mother and other family members. She lost control, and slammed the car into a seaside guard rail. She then struck Holly Januzzi, who was sitting on a park bench, dragged her down an embankment, and into the water. Ms. Januzzi was dead by the time rescuers reached her.

Although Westchester County Police stated that it is illegal to receive or give driving instruction in county parks, it is unlikely that Marshall will be issued more than a traffic violation, if that

Break the law, kill someone, drive home free. Same as it ever was.

Roosevelt Walk
The NYC Transit Authority has proposed construction of a block-long pedestrian mall on Roosevelt Avenue as part of its Main Street subway station rehabilitation in Flushing, Queens. Buses that stop at the subway station could negotiate the mall, and delivery trucks could enter during specific off-hours. The Transit Authority maintains that Main Street has the heaviest intermodal passenger traffic in the country, with 21 bus lines approaching the proposed mall. Local elected officials, including Queens Borough President Claire Shulman, reserved comment on the mall proposal until more details were available. Local merchants, however, have wasted no time in expressing concern that their motoring customers will be driven away by the mall.

City Hall, Jeeves
While our mayor may look like he's busy cutting the city's budget, he believes that some things are sacred. The administration is hoping to almost double the budget for "chauffeur-attendants" to serve the needs of city officials. The eight drivers now on the books racked up $219,000 in overtime in 1993, and are on their way again this year. City Hall would like to add seven new "chauffeur-attendants" to the payroll; they start at $26,000 a year.

Cooking the Books
There's a big gap in the New York State budget, and Komanoff Energy Associates have found it. A recent study by the group reports that while state motorists pay $4.5 billion in taxes, tolls, fees, and fines to all levels of government, the governments spend $6.9 billion on streets, highways, enforcement, regulation, and administration. Therein lies the gap. About one in three dollars spent on the traffic infrastructure has to come out of general revenues. This isn't good news for the 56 percent of households in the city that don't even own a car, or for the 30 percent of households across the state that are carless. And these calculations do not include what Komanoff estimates at $21 billion in indirect environmental and social costs-just in New York City.

Pave Park Slope, Put up a Parking Lot
Where does the city stop and the suburbs begin? The demarcation has always been pretty straightforward, with density giving way to sprawl at the metropolis's borders. But the Guiliani administration is working to bring the sprawl into the city. To lure giant chain stores like Caldor, Wal-Mart, and Tops Appliance City into traditionally industrial areas throughout the five boroughs, city officials are proposing new zoning regs that will raise the size limit on most stores in areas zoned for manufacturing from 10,000 to 100,000 square feet. Each store would be surrounded by its own immense parking lot. Among the losers are likely to be retailers who own small stores--the same ones who long ago vanished from the suburban landscape.