Russell Gardens resident takes on village hall

Russell Gardens resident takes on village hall

They say you can’t fight City Hall, something that Richard Miroe is learning the hard way.

Miroe has been leading a one-man campaign to get the Village of Russell Gardens to allow overnight parking on Melbourne Road and Darly Road for two years, but is getting nowhere fast.

Miroe, who lives at 150 South Middle Neck Road in one of the three apartment complexes in Russell Gardens, said he is seeking to enlist fellow apartment dwellers to lobby the village.

“We are only asking for one parking spot in front of each home on the streets, and each car could have a bumper sticker on it,” Miroe said. “We have people such as new mothers and the elderly that are forced to walk from blocks away to get to the apartment building, since there is not enough parking.”

Village of Russell Gardens Mayor Bloomfield said he opposed overnight parking for residents of the apartment complexes because it creates a security risk.

“It’s typical in areas such as ours, that they don’t allow parking in front of homes overnight, because of security issues,” Bloomfield said. “And at one point we did have permit parking, but were advised by village counsel that it was illegal because you can’t discriminate who can park on private streets.”

Bloomfield said that in the past he added 10 to 15 more spaces for the multi dwelling residents’ area on Dunster Road.

“We felt it was fair and quite frankly it satisfied everyone except Mr. Miroe,” Bloomfield said. “I’m not saying it’s a perfect situation, but we are making every effort to provide the max parking within the tradition and framework of what similar villages do.”

Miroe said an officer at the 6th Precinct told him that overnight on-street parking did not create security risks.

“The officer I spoke to told me he didn’t know of any studies done that show one car parked in front of a house would cause more crime,” Miroe said.

Miroe said he was also unhappy that villages funds help pay for a private park within the village for which multi-dwelling residents aren’t allowed access.

The park is owned by the Russell Garden’s Association and private homeowners are required by law to become members. Non private homeowners are not allowed membership into the association said Bloomfield. Within the park is a tennis court, pool, and snack bar area enclosed by a barb wire fence.

The Russell Gardens Association was having trouble paying for the maintenance and upkeep of the park and the village entered into a five-year lease with the park to help with the expenses, Bloomfield said.

“The village believes that the Russell Garden’s Association Park is one of the treasurers of Russell Gardens,” Bloomfield said. “The association was prioritizing other things in the park with regards to the monies they received from their members. We pay for the expenses in the park because we believe it’s a treasure and want to perpetuate that. We took time to clean it up, got rid of dead trees and replanted the forested areas of the park.”

Bloomfield said the village did not want to sit back and watch the park become an eyesore.

“Do you think if that park became a garbage dump, that it wouldn’t affect the whole village,” Bloomfield asked. “With this lease it gives us an opportunity for all our residents and preserves a treasure to our residents.”

The lease was originally for $60,000, but over the years has gone up to a total of $85,000, said Bloomfield.

Miroe said that public municipalities should not be bailing out private organizations; especially when the parts of the public who have to pay the taxes can’t even use the entire park.

“They let the entire village use the bottom one acre of the park so they could legitimize the deal,” Miroe said. “We get about one acre of land, four benches and aren’t allowed in the fenced in area that is topped with barb wire. Hardly any multi dwellers even use this park – who is going to sit on a bench and watch other people have fun?”

Miroe ran unsuccessfully in last year’s Village of Russell Gardens trustee election as a write in candidate. He said that the fact that the write-in candidates received 28 votes and the incumbents 248 shows that there are two Russell Gardens.

“After speaking with the village clerk I was told that in the last 80 years there has been no more than 26 to 28 votes, and when we challenged the incumbents they came out with 248. We were betrayed by the president of the co-op board at building 180. who told the mayor about our write in candidates two days before the election.”

Bloomfield disputes the claim of there being two Russell Gardens and isn’t sure how many people Miroe really claims to represent.

“If we have 900 people in the village and a third are multi dwellers, don’t you think its odd only 28 came out,” Bloomfield said. “I think what you have to be careful not to do, is to legitimize the claims of something that really doesn’t exist. Even though it might make a great article, I it doesn’t represent a situation that exists. He has an issue and he just can’t let go of it.”

Miroe said that he is simply standing up for what he believes in and represents numerous multi-dwelling residents.

“When we have to pay for something even if it’s a nominal amount, the idea of using public funds to fund a private group is wrong,” Miroe said. “I’m looking to be a voice for the apartment buildings if you believe there is a wrong that has to be righted.”

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