On Morningside Avenue, Waiting For The Change

“Delay, delay, delay,” said Ronald Sheppard, who has lived on Morningside Avenue for six years, told his family disappointingly, after the Community Board 9 general meeting on Sept. 19.

Morningside Avenue

Morningside Avenue


In a vote of 18 to 15, Community Board 9 tabled the Morningside Avenue Traffic Calming Plan until next month’s board meeting.

From West 116th street to West 126th street, Morningside Avenue, known as a speedway between Harlem’s residential areas and Morningside Park which attracts many children who cross the 60-foot avenue alone, is one of the city’s more dangerous streets with 102 crashes in the last 5 years, according to the survey of New York City Department of Transportation.

The plan, proposed by the city’s Department of Transportation early this month, would reduce travel lanes from four-lane into two lanes, one in each direction with left-turn lanes. Parking lanes would be widened, leaving space for cyclists. The plan also includes constructing green pedestrian islands, extending concrete curb, and adding new crosswalk.

Image: New York City Department of Transportation

Image: New York City Department of Transportation


Fifty-three neighborhood residents, most of them parents, turned out for the meeting  to voice support for the plan. “Speeding vehicles in this area has been a problem for many years…this is an excellent plan with particular concerns for children, parents and seniors,” said Lisa Frazier, 40, one of the supporters, who lives on West 121st Street with her 10-year-old son, felt obliged to create a better neighborhood environment for the children and other residents.

However, some neighborhood residents are dissatisfied with this plan. “The situation is not that bad, [parents] just worry too much and don’t even think it through,” said Ivonne Felix, who objects to the plan and said that reducing the moving lanes will worsen traffic congestion which, she believe, is the core problem of the plan.

According to the meeting record, 98 people attended. “That’s not enough,” said Hleziphi Zita, Community Associate of CB9, “Community Board hopes that more and more residents get involved in this issue.” When things got heated Chairwoman Georgiette Morgan-Thomas, tried to calm angered parents at the end of meeting: “This is a part of the process.” Board treasurer, Anthony Fletcher, pointed out that residents should make an informed decision on this issue, “That is the meaning of public discourse.”

The plan is similar to the ongoing traffic calming plan of Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard which still hasn’t been approved by the leaders of Community Board 10. But some residents believe it won’t happen on this plan. While Mrs. Zita explained that even if the CB9 holds off the traffic calming plan, city council committees have to vote to install.

The next step is waiting for Oct. 3, the next transportation committee meeting. And  the CB10 full board meeting is scheduled for Oct. 2.