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Senior citizens group takes stand against errant produce stores

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A group of gray panthers is on the march against the produce stores that display fruits and vegetables too far outside their store.

In a recent letter to Community Board 11 District Manager Marnee Elias-Pavia, the senior advisory committee from NORC (Naturally Occurring Senior Community), complained about the situation on 86th Street between Bay Parkway and 23rd Avenue.

The letter states that produce venders displaying their products so far out on the sidewalk cause hazardous conditions, particularly for the elderly.

“Many elderly are at high risk of falling. First of all, they can slip on the fallen fruits and vegetables that are lying on the ground. Secondly, crowded foot traffic creates conditions where elderly could be accidentally pushed. Last but not least, people are at risk of being hit by the ongoing traffic,” wrote Inna Zaslavskaya, director of the Jewish Community House of Bensonhurst NORC.

Elias-Pavia said part of the problem stems from the section of 86th Street having an oversized sidewalk, which does not restrict general vending.

Back in 1985, former Mayor Koch toured the strip and said it reminded him of the heyday of the Lower East Side, and he permitted it for the rest of 86th street except the segment in question, recalled Elias-Pavia.

Elias-Pavia said the rule is that there has to be nine-and-half feet from the curb for clearance.

“There are portions [of the strip] where there is a yellow line and for the most part merchants adhere, but some merchants put it [produce] out further and on crates which is illegal, making it difficult to walk,” she said.

Elias-Pavia said since receiving the letter, she toured the area with Fred Kreizman and Charles Glover from the Mayor’s Community Affairs office.

“We did a walk-though and went into each store to advise them they were coming out too far and please move back, and that enforcement will be conducted,” she said, adding the community board requested multi-agency enforcement.

Among the agencies contacted were the Department of Sanitation, Department of Transportation, Consumer Affairs and the Heath Department.

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