Hollande Parmentier’s waiting game: Cars parked for 30 years

Written by By J Lanyon, CNN Hollande Parmentier doesn’t like gas. A former city councilor in New York’s Bronx borough, he says the unpleasant smell of diesel fuel reminds him of the riots of…

Hollande Parmentier's waiting game: Cars parked for 30 years

Written by By J Lanyon, CNN

Hollande Parmentier doesn’t like gas.

A former city councilor in New York’s Bronx borough, he says the unpleasant smell of diesel fuel reminds him of the riots of the 1970s.

He’s been carless since that incident, and hasn’t driven a car in almost 30 years. In all that time, he says, neither his street-caring neighbors nor the drivers of nearby rusted-out cars had bothered him once. That may not sound like the best of options, but he insists the $400,000 the city of Yonkers spent recently on a gas station for him is.

This close-up image shows the exterior of the abandoned Joy Oil gas station in Yonkers, New York. Credit: Charles Ludlam

“I wouldn’t have paid that much if they told me I had to,” he says. “It makes me crazy that they’re saving a fraction of that amount on gas.”

“Why?” he adds, sounding like the ancient scribe of an epic poem. “That’s crazy!”

There is no singular answer to this perplexing mystery, and there’s no sign yet of relief. But indeed, there are answers.

“It’s going to cost quite a bit more to get a new fuel pump than it is to have the old one replaced,” admits Ulli Bonnke, communications manager for the Yonkers Industrial and Transportation Advisory Board

“But I think we need to remain more open-minded,” she adds. “I think the state of affairs is really very sad. We have a very large amount of abandoned cars, and abandoned buildings in general. And this is bringing all of that to a total standstill.”

There are obvious hazards involved when these structures are abandoned. Bonnke calls it a “terrible odyssey” — one that should not be underestimated when it comes to health and safety.

In this aerial view of the New York borough of the Bronx, the smell of exhaust from parked cars hangs in the breeze. Credit: Charles Ludlam

“There’s really no place for the diesel to ventilate properly — or escape from buildings,” she says. “And when you have an abandoned or abandoned building or the diesel fumes come into an underground parking lot, people can’t get away from it — so people can’t drive. They have to pull over.”

‘We can’t afford it,’ says the owner

Yonkers’ recent investment is part of a strategic campaign to get and keep cars off streets. In response to the borough’s antiquated street crossings and unusually high traffic jams, the city is now paying contractors to clean and demarcate roads, reinforce traffic signals and build traffic calming zones.

But some argue this expansion of city services is pushing residents and businesses out of the area. In a separate case that was thrown out of court, a mom-and-pop pizzeria was ordered to stop feeding customers free bread at the location it occupied.

Trying to take action against more overt problems, the city passed an ordinance that prohibits parking in the middle of residential streets on Saturday evenings or Sunday mornings between 8 p.m. and 6 a.m.

Car owners can face stiff fines for parking in this marked lane in the Bronx borough of New York. Credit: Charles Ludlam

Meanwhile, the park land underneath may be the city’s biggest problem. A 2016 report by the Manhattan Institute — a conservative think tank — described the use of the land for transit and retail purposes as “tokenized.”

A statement from the Yonkers office of the Manhattan Institute says: “There is not sufficient parking capacity in the park to meet the city’s transportation needs and the city’s demands. Our analysis shows that the city could add an additional 30,000 parking spaces in the park without causing a serious traffic problem.”

Car owners can face stiff fines for parking in this marked lane in the Bronx borough of New York. Credit: Charles Ludlam

Another report from the city of Yonkers titled ” Parking in The Park: The Effect of Reverting the Rows At The West Yonkers Approach And North Yonkers Approach On The West Side of Villanova and Izod Streets , ” details more of the city’s dire parking needs.

Estimates from the Department of Investigation show that there is another 1,630 spaces now available to park in. But, says Bonnke, “We need to continue to look at the park

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