PARKING MADNESS 2021: A Bruising Battle in the Bronx

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This is the latest first-round battle in our March (Parking) Madness competition. Also today, we’re publishing a first-round matchup between two Brooklyn powerhouses (click here for that). In both bouts, polls close on Sunday at 2 p.m. Polls are open until 5 p.m. day in yesterday’s Lower Manhattan slugfest (here).

If there’s one thing we can say about the Bronx, it’s that the place is a consummate car sewer. It was on purpose. New York’s iconic borough-busting planner, Robert Moses, carved up the rolling, mainland borough with the Cross Bronx Expressway and a raft of other roads; Moses’s malign influence, not to mention its cultural permutations, will last forever in the Boogie Down, it seems. The Department of Transportation has only recently bruited several initiatives (a dedicated busway on Fordham Road, for example) that might, eventually, lead to a slightly less car-choked Bronx County. But don’t count on that happening anytime soon!

Neglect of the Bronx, by City Hall and everyone else, is a sturdy motif: Vast swathes of the borough’s southern neighborhoods burned during the 1970s. (Heavily immigrant Bronx County remains one of the poorest in the nation.) The local cops, for their part, got their own myth with the 1981 movie “Fort Apache,” which painted them as beleaguered  heroes. Let’s put it this way: Not for nothing is the borough the birthplace of hip hop.

Given the history, is it any wonder, then, that Bronx precincts routinely flip the bird to their environs, with officers parking both department and personal vehicles willy nilly on streets, sidewalks, and even more inappropriate venues? Our other first-round matchup between the 40th Precinct and the 42nd Precinct was a razor-thin contest (in the end, the 4-2 moved onto the borough final next week).

Who will the 42nd face? For your consideration, here are the 46th Precinct, which serves the west-central Bronx, including the poor-to-working class areas of Fordham, University Heights, Morris Heights and Mount Hope; and the 52nd, in Norwood,  a more verdant area near the Bronx Botanical Gardens.

46th Precinct (West-Central Bronx)

In the 46th, a snug, older station house at 2120 Ryer Ave., tucked between Valentine Avenue and the Grand Concourse, commanding officer Inspector Joseph Seminara apparently does not care about pedestrian access to the sidewalks.

Cop cruiser city: the front entrance of the 46th is heavy on SUVs. Photo: Eve Kessler
Cop cruiser city: the front entrance of the 46th is heavy on SUVs. Photo: Eve Kessler

Each side of the street in the vicinity hosts cars, cars, cars. See, for example, the photo below. What’s up with that?

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The police officers’ cars on the sidewalk in front of this apartment house block egress almost completely. Photo: Eve Kessler

Then there is the following cute maneuver: Just take an open sidewalk for parking, why don’t you officers?

Police cruisers parked haphazardly on a sidewalk. Why not? It's the Bronx! Photo: Eve Kessler
Police cruisers parked haphazardly on a sidewalk, across the street from the 46th Precinct. Why not? It’s the Bronx! Photo: Eve Kessler

The following photo shows the extent of the car sewerage on the tiny block of the station house.

Ryer Avenue, looking east at the 46th Precinct. Cars line both sidewalk. Photo: Eve Kessler
Ryer Avenue, looking east at the 46th Precinct. Cars line both sidewalks. Photo: Eve Kessler

Here’s how much space the precinct allots to pedestrians on the sidewalk across the street: Not much play between the barricade and the wall of the building!

Could a wheel chair pass through the sidewalk space that the 46th Precinct allots for pedestrians on the west side of Ryer Avenue? Kind of dicey, we'd say. Photo: Eve Kessler
Could a wheelchair pass through the sidewalk space that the 46th Precinct allots for pedestrians on the west side of Ryer Avenue? Kind of dicey, we’d say. Photo: Eve Kessler
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A map noting the location of the 46th Precinct’s parking lots. Image: Placard Corruption

This situation obtains even though the station house has three dedicated offsite parking lots (hat tip to @placardabuse for pointing that out) — but there is so much transit in the area, including the nearby IND subway and buses galore on the Concourse, that Seminara’s soldiers shouldn’t need one (unless, like the majority of NYPD officers, they live in the suburbs).

But how bad is the 46 compared to its rival? Let’s see…

52nd Precinct (Norwood)

Like the 46th, the 52nd Precinct, at 3016 Webster Ave., occupies a historic station house — in this case, a 1904-06 building modeled after a Tuscan villa. It has a sizable parking lot, an elevated affair at the side of the building, abutting Mosholu Parkway — which make the officers’ parking depredations all the more offensive.

None of it seems to bother the commanding officer, Deputy Inspector Thomas Alps; as Streetsblog observed the precinct on Tuesday, we saw many violations parking by officers but also by regular motorists, none of which triggered any police action (so at least the cops aren’t hypocrites).

Here’s a view of the expansive lot from the south, across Mosholu Parkway.

Plenty of room for officers' cars in the 52nd Precinct parking lot. Yet the cars overflow. Photo: Eve Kessler
Plenty of room for officers’ cars in the 52nd Precinct dedicated parking lot. Yet the cars overflow. Photo: Eve Kessler
Why do the cars overflow? No one else can park in the lot! Photo: Eve Kessler
Why do the cars overflow? No one else can park in the lot! Photo: Eve Kessler

So where do officers park their vehicles, despite having a dedicated lot? Why, in the dedicated bus lane of the Bx41, of course! Streetsblog saw at least four cruisers, as well as civilian cars that belonged to police or NYPD employees, parked there. So much for the vaunted cooperation of the NYPD with Vision Zero.

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Bus lane? Hell, no! Cops use the bus lane next to the 52nd Precinct in the Bronx as a parking lot. Photo: Eve Kessler

As we said, no traffic enforcement seems to be going on in the vicinity of the 52nd. The truck in the photo below happily parked in the south-bound dedicated bus lane on Webster Avenue, in front of a sedan that had been there probably 20 minutes. “Obnoxious” doesn’t even begin to describe the abuse of the bus lanes around the 52nd. Construction on the streets just north of Montefiori Medical Center already puts the buses at a serious disadvantage — in a borough with no crosstown subways, where poor residents rely heavily on buses. C’mon!

Motorists block the bus lane directly across the street from the 52nd Precinct on Webster Avenue in the Bronx. Photo: Eve Kessler
Motorists block the bus lane across the street from the 52nd Precinct on Webster Avenue in the Bronx. Photo: Eve Kessler

Double parking in front of the station house is also no problem, as the following photo shows.

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The station house of the 52nd Precinct in the Bronx is an interesting historic building — if you can get past the double parked cars. Photo: Eve Kessler

Here’s more double-parking further up Webster Avenue:

Cops just double-park wherever in near the 52nd Precinct station house. Photo: Eve Kessler
Cops just double-park wherever in near the 52nd Precinct station house. Photo: Eve Kessler

And no station-house photo tour would be complete without the obligatory shot of the cop-blocked fire hydrant. We’re not sure why precinct commanders don’t think that their neighborhoods will burn, but maybe the operative phrase is that they “don’t think.”

A blocked fire hydrant in front of the 52nd Precinct on Webster Avenue in the Bronx. Photo: Eve Kessler
A blocked fire hydrant in front of the 52nd Precinct on Webster Avenue in the Bronx. Photo: Eve Kessler

And what is the deal with all the derelict cars around the precincts? Are they left over from crash investigations? Seizures? Lack of coordination between the NYPD and the Department of Sanitation? Three dead cars slumped in the parking lane directly across from the 52nd, jamming up the adjacent bus stop. By the looks of them (e.g., the bird droppings and accumulated garbage), they have been there for months.

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Dead Car No. 1 on Webster Avenue across from the 52nd Precinct appears to have been in a crash. Photo: Eve Kessler
Your guess is as good as ours as to what caused the demise of Dead Cars No. 2 and 3. Photo: Eve Kessler
Your guess is as good as ours as to what caused the demise of Dead Cars No. 2 and 3. Note the line of cruisers behind them in the bus lane across the street. Photo: Eve Kessler

Anyway, in our view, both the 46th and the 52nd are bad neighbors, parking wise.

OK, time to vote! (Polls are open until Sunday, March 14 at 2 p.m.!)

So Which Precinct is Worse?

  • The 52nd (Norwood)? (56%, 107 Votes)
  • The 46th (West-Central Bronx)? (44%, 83 Votes)

Total Voters: 190

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