They knew where they lived, but no one else did.
Residents of Colonial Gardens, a tiny byway off Shore Road, between 89th and 90th Streets, had struggled for years with city bureaucracy, in an effort to get their street sign -- a key indicator for such necessities as mail delivery and emergency services - - replaced, after decades in which it was missing in action.
Enter State Senator Marty Golden, who took on the challenge after the issue was brought to him during a recent senior fair at St. Patrick’s. Approximately two months later, the residents celebrated with Golden around the sparkling new green street sign.
It was way more than vanity that had Colonial Gardens residents pushing for a street sign, stressed Emily Doyaga, who has lived on the block for 37 years.
With 12 families living on the block, whose members include both elderly people and youngsters, there was incessant concern about what would happen should someone need emergency aid and the ambulance, fire truck or police car not be able to find the street.
“We worried about that,” Doyaga stressed. “Some people live alone. If anything happened, they would have a terrible time getting an ambulance.”
In one instance, Doyaga recalled, an ambulance had been called for someone who needed medical assistance, and it drove around three times before coming in to Colonial Gardens, and then only because she stood in its way and told them where to go. “It was dangerous not having a sign up there,” Doyaga reiterated.
Nonetheless, getting the sign installed appeared to require some heavy lifting. John Quaglione, a spokesperson for Golden, said that it was difficult to get the city’s Department of Transportation (DOT) to locate the street. “I had to use Google Earth to explain it to DOT,” he recalled. Once it was clear, however, where the street was tucked away, DOT had said that the sign would be put up over the summer.
“When people say to you an ambulance can’t find them, that’s horrifying,” Quaglione stressed. “Car services would call from outside and say, where are you? It’s a real quality-of-life issue if the street you live on is unidentified to the rest of the world, and only you and your neighbors and the people who have been there before know where it is.”
The end result, he added, “Is so much more than those two words on a street sign.”
Prior efforts to get a street sign -- which Doyaga said had not been up as long as she has lived in Colonial Gardens -- were unsuccessful. A couple of years back, she recalled, DOT had told the residents that, “If they put a sign here, they would have to put one everywhere, but there are street signs at the other small streets in the neighborhood. We were willing to put up our own sign, but the city wouldn’t allow us to do it.”