When the signs finally came down on Wednesday, July 18, community leaders celebrated the Department of Transportation's decision to allow parking on the street.
“Now you can eat and shop and enjoy the avenue,” said Sandy Balboza, president of the Atlantic Avenue Betterment Association. Balboza has been fighting to allow parking on Atlantic Avenue during the afternoon for the past 20 years.
The time which prohibited cars from being parked on Atlantic Avenue made it “difficult for merchants to do business,” Balboza said. “It is prime time.”
Josef Szende, executive director of the Atlantic Avenue Business Improvement District, agreed with Balboza.
“So many of our businesses depend on people buying large items,” he said. “There's no other way to do it than coming by car. So if people are here, they just can't live in fear of getting towed.”
When asked how prevalent the parking issue was, he said, “This was the number one issue for every business on the south side of Atlantic Avenue.”
That was the case when a patron of Silk Road Antiques, co-owned by sisters Frances Caroll and Barbara Clurman, had their car towed for parking on Atlantic Avenue.
“One of our Chinese customers got towed and he didn't speak English very well,” said Caroll. “So we had to close the store and my sister went with him to the Navy Yard to help him get his car back.”
Councilman Stephen Levin was another victim of the former parking restrictions on Atlantic Avenue.
“I actually had my car towed a couple of times over the last two years that my office has been here,” said Levin. He said that by around 4 and 5 p.m. the NYPD would be towing vehicles in the area in what he called “a circus line.”
One of the issues brought up by Balboza was that motorists were not warned properly. She said,
“Even thought the signs were up, they were up like 30 feet high,” he said. “People saw other people parked there and they didn't know, so they got towed.”
“We're overjoyed that parking is back,” added Szende. “It is going to be an increase in business.”