We continue our series on City Council candidates with a Q&A with activist and food wholesaler Clifford Stanton, who’s running to represent District 11, covering Kingsbridge, Riverdale, Woodlawn, and Norwood in the Bronx. On Monday, we ran a Q&A with Andrew Cohen, who serves as a CB 8 member and legal advisor to Assembly Member Jeffrey Dinowitz; yesterday we had replies from track coach and businesswomman Cheryl Keeling. Candidate Ari Hoffnung, a deputy city comptroller, told Streetsblog that he does not reply to questionnaires.
Streetsblog: Riverdale was one of the first neighborhoods in New York to receive Slow Zone treatments from DOT, and an application is underway for Norwood. In your view, has the Slow Zone program been successful? Where else could it be considered in the district?
Clifford Stanton: The Riverdale Slow Zone was the culmination of four years of advocacy and lobbying by the PS 24 Parents Association during my tenure as President. As the current Parent Safety Chair of the PS 24 PA, I am pleased to see that the Slow Zone has had a positive effect by reducing vehicular speeds, especially on Independence Avenue. I believe more must be done (i.e. a midblock crosswalk, four-way stop, median, sidewalk redesign) to make this stretch of roadway safer. As the Parent Safety Chair of the Bronx High School of Science Parents’ Association, I have been assembling a coalition of support for a Slow Zone in the area of Paul Avenue from Mosholu Parkway to 204th Street. I have also accumulated over 300 petition signatures in support of the Norwood/Mosholu Slow Zone.
SB: Select Bus Service has led to faster bus speeds on Fordham Road. Do you want dedicated bus lanes and other service improvements for bus riders elsewhere in the district, and if so, where?
CS: My priority for Select Bus Service is the success of the new Webster Avenue route, which is scheduled to begin this summer. Once in office, I will work closely with DOT and the MTA to ensure complete streetscape improvements and to make any necessary post-implementation adjustments. It is vital for the LaGuardia service to extend to Gun Hill Road, and I will work to ensure it is not truncated due to insufficient funding. No other citywide priorities for Select Bus have been identified for my district. Nevertheless, successful implementation on Webster will maintain momentum for the program, and my constituents will benefit from a more developed transit network.
SB: The Parks Department is planning to pave the Putnam Line rail-trail in Van Cortlandt Park, to connect with the paved trail in Westchester County. Is this a project you support or oppose? Why?
CS: I support the paving of the Putnam Trail in a manner that minimizes damage to the natural flora. This section of the Northwest Bronx needs more safe and usable bike paths and trails, and it must be ADA accessible. It must also be maintainable over the long-term.
SB: How can the Council best use its powers to reduce vehicular deaths and ensure traffic justice citywide?
CS: The City Council should hold hearings and pass the legislation I submitted to the Office of the Speaker last September to create 20 mph Slow Zones around all schools and senior centers. It should also facilitate the creation of more bike lanes, DOT plazas, and pedestrian malls. I will advocate for a public relations campaign to promote healthier lifestyle choices including, but not limited to, walking. As a parents association president, I started a biannual Northwest Bronx community-wide Walk to School Day, which suceeded in reducing traffic in front of the school by 42 percent. I want to see the City expand the publication and use of data to better identify problem areas.
SB: The MTA is a state agency, but what actions would you like to see the City Council take to fund and expand transit service?
CS: I will promote Select Bus routes and improvements for express bus routes. We must do more for disabled and elderly passengers. Moreover, each Access-A-Ride trip costs the MTA approximately $60, which is unsustainable with our aging population. The free transportation service for seniors that I founded last year, 4 Wheels for Good, is a model for helping the elderly while building a sense of community. We must also enact legislation to make all taxis ADA accessible and expand the use of vouchers as an Access-A-Ride alternative. The City can also partner with the MTA to redevelop unsightly open rail cuts and subway yards, including those in my district. This can generate revenue to support transit while contributing to surrounding neighborhoods, but only if planned properly with the local communities. I can provide the leadership for such collaboration.