Attendance: Councillor Mike Cohen, David Tordjman (Director of Public Works), Charles Senekal (Traffic Engineer), Robin Goldstein (Waste, Environment and Safety Technician), Florian Gaudreault (JPPS-Bialik Coordinator of Facilities), Brandon Luden (Bialik Student Traffic Committee), Sergeant V.H. Keusseyan (Police Station 9), Sidney Margles, Mark Merson, Benjamin Trossman, Rafael Zeira, Gloria Freedman, Mike Cuplowsky, Wendy Fine, Harry Shizgal, Samuel Rappaport, Emile Chitayat, Tina Naftali, Linda Bogante, Martin Bogante, Gittie Cobrin, Jay Gotteiner, Seymour Glustein, Marvin Hayman, Sarah Rapkin, Ettie Pekofsky, Isidore Greenbaum, Mira Attias, Pearl Berkowitz, Jacques Berkowitz, Lion Kunin
Media: Joel Goldenberg, Martin Barry
Councillor Cohen welcomed everyone to this fourth District 2 council meeting, noting that the format is specifically designed to talk about very local issues. The meeting was held in memory of Isadore “Kek” Rosenblatt, who passed away within the previous two weeks. Kek played an active role on issues in the district and was specifically focused on traffic problems on Kildare and near Bialik.
2. Bialik Student Traffic Committee
Student Brandon Luden and JPPS/Bialik head of security and facilities Florian Gaudreault were introduced. Councillor Cohen noted that one of his goals upon being elected was to focus attention on the traffic problems on Kildare and Marc Chagall as a result of Bialik High School parents doing dropoff and pickup. Last August Councillor Cohen arranged a meeting with the Bialik principal and vice-principal. Côte Saint-Luc Councillor responsible for traffic Sam Goldbloom and Police Station 9 Traffic Officer Alain St. Marseille were on hand. It was agreed at this point that the police would start doing spot checks and hand out tickets, with a zero tolerance policy towards offenders. This was mostly successful in the early going, especially in the mornings. However, because of the shift change at the station, the results were not as strong in the afternoon. Councillor Cohen met with Principal Elaine Wisenthal in the winter and together they established a Student Traffic Committee. Its mandate was to collect data on traffic safety offences and to make recommendations. Five students worked with Ms. Wisenthal and Mr. Gaudreault and produced an impressive report, which Brandon Luden presented in powerpoint.
They observed and recorded :
1) The amount of vehicles passing by Bialik in the morning and afternoon during five minute intervals.
2) Vehicle infractions:
• Not stopping at the stop sign at the intersection of Kildare eastbound at Marc Chagall
• “Cross overs”
• Stalling morning drop off
• Parked around the circle after school
• Parked on Private Property (ex: inside Merrimac parking lot)
3) Student infractions:
• Not using the crosswalk to cross Kildare
Between 8 a.m. and 8:30 a.m., the average amount of cars passing by Bialik were 35, 27, 18, 31 and 36 at each five minute interval via Kildare and 7, 10, 6, 12 and 5 via Marc Chagall. The average number of infractions noted during this same time period was three stop signs, six stalling in the dropoff zone, three students not using the crosswalk and 16 cars committing cross over infractions.
(criss-crossing each other to park next to Bialik).
From 3:20 p.m. to 3:45 p.m. the average amount of cars passing by Bialik were 16, 21, 30, 32.5 and 19 via Kildare and 5, 6, 15, 13 and 10 via Marc Chagall. Average infractions noted were an astonishing 120 at the crosswalk, nine stop signs, four cars parked on private property, 13 parked around the circle and four committing crossover infractions. Brandon correctly observes that the crosswalk violations represent an accident waiting to happen.
The Student Traffic Committee has made some suggestions:
• A white line be drawn dividing Kildare between Marc Chagall and the entrance to the parking lot of Bialik High School
• No heavy vehicles or trucks on Kildare between 8:00 AM – 8:20 AM & 3:30 PM – 3:45 PM
• Repaint the crosswalk at the intersection of Marc Chagall and Kildare
• Install a no parking zone on Marc-Chagall to eliminate the double parking drop off occurring there in the morning between 8:00 and 8:30.
• That a police or CSL Public Security unit have a patrol route that passes by Kildare and Marc Chagall at least once during 8:00 AM – 8:20 AM & 3:30 PM – 3:45 PM and that the officer(s) hand out tickets aggressively.
Brandon was commended for the excellent work done by the committee. A number of comments and questions ensued. Sam Rappaport called on parents to take more of a role in making sure their children understand the traffic safety rules. Sidney Margles commented that the Volunteer Citizens on Patrol (VCOPs) have monitored the area. He agreed this is a matter of parental education. He suggested that every Bialik parent doing pickup have the name of their child in the window and that parents not be allowed to stop and talk to each other and slow down traffic. Linda Bogante said that between 8 a.m. and 8:30 a.m. cars coming from Rembrandt can only get on to Kildare if they are aggressive drivers because the traffic of Bialik parents is so constant. Director Tordjman said he hopes that the synchronization of lighting on Cavendish Boulevard will help matters at the Kildare intersection. Mark Merson called for more aggressive ticketing and perhaps a letter from the city to residents of Marc Chagall recommending that they exit in the morning from Marc Chagall/Mackle/Cavendish. Another suggestion was for one-way traffic to be implemented, with cars coming from Cavendish via Kildare being forced to go down Marc Chagall. Director Tordjman said this would solve one problem, but create another. Sidney Margles said that Bialik traffic tickets should be introduced. Mr Gaudreault said they do exist. He has only been on the job for a few months. It was recognized that given his newly established position, there is now a point person to go to for these kind of issues.
4) Bialik Expansion
Mr. Gaudreault reported that at the end of June a two-phase expansion and renovation of Bialik will begin. Phase I will consist of the reconfiguration and renovation of the existing cafeteria and lunchroom located on the basement level, the addition of 9,000 square feet of new construction for new classrooms and a relocated Art Studio, a new site enclosure and renovation of the main entrance and of the landscaping at the circular driveway and toward the entrance. Phase II will involve the conversion of the Metteralin Hall into a 264 seat auditorium, the renovation of the front face of the Mettarlin Hall to introduce additional glazing, the addition of a 6,930 square foot gymnasium and the addition of a new 2,900 square foot storage area to serve the new gymnasium and new auditorium. Councillor Cohen said that based on information he has, the building needs to be enlarged to accommodate its existing student population. He said that new signage being proposed is very attractive.
5) Synchronization of Traffic Lights on Cavendish
David Tordjman, the city’s director of public works, engineering and urban planning, gave a detailed presentation of the synchronization of lights on Cavendish Boulevard. He noted that work had been going on for the past three weeks and in fact on the morning after this meeting the first phase was to be implemented (and monitored). He introduced Charles Senekel, the city’s new traffic engineer, who is working on the project. In the weeks ahead, Director Tordjman said he hoped to see a net difference in the traffic flow. He also spoke about new signs that will be going up to promote pedestrian safety. Much discussion ensued regarding the Cavendish/Kildare intersection. Most people on hand felt that the signal is presently not long enough for pedestrians Others complained about the opposite, saying the signal is too long when they are trying to turn off Kildare to Cavendish during peak traffic hours. Director Tordjman said that the synchronization should be a bonus for both issues and that in the weeks ahead his team will be monitoring the progress. Linda Bogante said that the fence along Kildare Road is troublesome. For someone in the second traffic lane on Kildare, they are forced to navigate through what is essentially a blind turn. Director Tordjman suggested the possibility that this fence be lowered.
6) Repaving of Rembrandt and Merrimac
Director Tordjman provided some background about how the city went about selecting streets and sidewalks for repaving this summer and fall. He noted that a comprehensive study was done by a private firm which gave each street a quotient between one and 100 – one meaning it is in need of repair and 100 signifying that the surface is in perfect condition. Council has agreed to repave the streets and sidewalks of Rembrandt Avenue and Merrimac Road, probably in the fall, at a cost of about $160,000. Councillor Cohen said that during his campaign it was made clear to him by constituents that this work needed to be done.
7) Beth Chabad
Representatives from Beth Chabad Hechal Menachem Community Youth Centre, at the corner of Marc Chagall Avenue and Kildare Road, were supposed to attend the meeting. Rabbi Mendel Raskin was called away out of town on business and his president and vice-president were not available. Director Tordjman confirmed that construction is well underway for the synagogue/community centre. Beth Chabad has been based at the Cavendish Mall since 2001. With the Mall’s grand redevelopment plans, Beth Chabad will need to vacate their premises soon. The Kildare Road site was rezoned to accommodate them many years ago. Beth Chabad was established in a duplex at 5534 Earle Road in 1986, moving to the Côte Saint-‘Luc Shopping Centre two years later before taking up residence in the Mall’s former Eaton location. When completed, the new facility will include a youth lounge, computer and teen fitness rooms, a cafeteria, library, kollel/study room, social hall, Sephardic and Ashkenazi synagogues and a men’s mikvah. There has been no date set for the opening of phase one.
8) Le Chagall
Mira Attias, a former sales representative of the proposed Le Chagall project on Marc Chagall, attended the meeting. She wanted to express her doubts that the twin towers project will actually be built. She worked in the sales office for a number of years and never saw any move forward by the project owners, the Engel Group, to put a shovel in the ground. Councillor Cohen said the land is zoned for the two towers and therefore the city cannot do anything at the moment. Mark Merson and Sidney Margles asked that the shack on the land that is being saved as a sales office should be demolished. They complained that it is not only eyesore, but attracts animals. Director Tordjman said that the owners had a permit but that could be removed soon. If that happens, the shack could be discarded. There were also calls to change the zoning of the land if in fact Le Chagall never comes to fruition.
9) Traffic Flow
Everyone was unanimous about the fact the traffic planters on Marc Chagall have significantly slowed down traffic. This is a big success. Councillor Cohen had lobbied hard for this.
Robin Goldstein spoke about the success of the city’s pilot project on recycling. She has been meeting with condo owners in an effort to convince them to come aboard. Ten buildings/complexes, including three in District 2, have thus far signed up. Robin has been working for the city since the winter. She is leaving though in August to do her Masters Degree. Robin’s report resulted in a lot of interest and many questions.
11) General Matters
Sara Rapkin said there should be more security in Rembrandt/Côte Saint-Luc Park, noting she does not feel safe there in the evenings with non-residents playing basketball on the courts there. Councillor Cohen asked VCOp members Sidney Margles and Jacques Berkowitz to monitor the goings on in the park. The councillor would like to consider the possibility of removing the courts.
The former soccer pit at Rembrandt/Côte Saint-Luc Park was filled a few months ago. Some work still needs to be done regarding the soil and drainage matters before it can be grassed over. That should be complete by the end of Juned.
The Parks and Recreation Department removed the attendant at Rembrandt Park on the weekends. That means the tennis courts are available on a first-come, first serve, regardless where you live. Councillor Cohen asked that a study be conducted. The first trial showed that the cost to the city was $150 during the weekend for an attendant with only $40 revenue. So it does not necessarily pay to have an attendant on weekends.
The Engineering Division is developing a list of streets and sections of streets where yellow lines can be painted on the sidewalk to prevent vehicles from parking too close to driveways and garage entrances/exits. There are spots on Merrimac and Rembrandt which meet this requirement.
Sam Rappaport complained about grass cuttings left on the streey by gardeners. Director Tordjman said that a meeting was held with gardeners who will soon be licensed in the city. This will be a benefit, especially considering they would be identifiable in cases of improper procedures.