Imagine in 2006, you purchase a newly constructed home on Dean Street and Rochester Ave. Directly across the street is a staircase manufacturer that you barely know is there because the company keeps normal business hours and never utilizes the Dean Street entrance, instead using the one on Pacific Street. The manufacturer leaves. Then one day a vehicle repair shop arrives. The shop operates 24/7 with exhaust fumes permeating from idling vehicles on both the Dean and Pacific sides of the building. You can’t sleep due to the constant sound of pneumatic drills, music and a loudspeaker.
This is what happened to Dean Street homeowners more than a year ago when “MV Paratransit” Access-a-Ride (AAR) opened a vehicle repair depot across the street.
Jacqueline Wells, a homeowner on Dean Street, began writing letters to the MTA’s Paratransit Division in Oct. 2009 with complaints of numerous vehicles idling on “a residential street with new private homes.” Wells asserted, “This is not a commercial bus transport area.” She listed the dates, times and vehicle numbers of idling AAR buses. She received no response.
Wells, who also serves on the CB #8 Transportation Committee, wrote to the MTA’s Paratransit Division in March 2010 detailing a litany of complaints such as “loud music, loud banging of repair equipment and backup beeping noise of the vans inside and outside the depot when rear (Dean St.) doors are open” and “emission fumes coming from inside and outside the depot from ongoing repair work and idling vans.” According to Wells’ letter, these disturbances occur throughout the day, at night past 12AM and every weekend.
The letter included an invitation to either the April, May or June CB #8 Transportation meeting in order to “address these issues and talk about corrective action.” CB #8 suggested several corrective options to reduce the “growing toxic environmental impact.” MTA Paratransit never attended any CB #8 meetings nor answered any letters.
At one point, the noise and fumes did seem to ease. Dean Street homeowners thought MV Paratransit would “be a good neighbor.” But by November 2010, Wells, in her capacity as president of the 1700 Dean Street Block Association, wrote yet another letter to MTA Paratransit detailing an escalation of the problem. MV Paratransit began using Dean Street to park disabled vehicles, at times blocking the street and backing up car traffic and the B15 and B65 buses. Vehicles park directly at the fire hydrant. In addition, the Dean Street doors are open 24/7, seemingly in an attempt to backdraft noxious fumes.
In yet another letter dated Jan. 2011, CB #8 recommended MV Paratransit simply cease using the Dean Street exit.
For the safety of homeowners and workers employed at the repair depot, CB #8 recommends sound-proofing the poorly insulated buildings and the installation
of an air recycling system to reduce toxic fumes.
Since MV Paratransit began operations at the Dean/Pacific Streets location, homeowners have endured winters when the company neglects to remove snow from the sidewalks as well as ice accumulation on sidewalks from runoff after vehicles are washed. Now that summer is approaching, homeowners dare not open their windows; the smell of exhaust fumes permeates everything.
“We don’t mind them being there, but they need not infringe upon our quality of life,” said Nikia Kennedy, a resident who lives directly across the street from MV Paratransit’s repair depot.