NY Daily News
The setup, which often happens on weekends and holidays, blocks off through-traffic for motorists going eastbound on 57th Ave. Instead, a line of traffic cones funnels drivers into the parking garage - even if they have no desire to enter the mall.
This was the case for Forest Hills resident Elaine Eisenberg on a recent Sunday. She pulled out from her metered space on 57th Ave. and found herself blocked in by cones directing her into the garage.
Eisenberg, 68, said she had no other choice but to enter the garage. "I took a ticket, drove up two floors, around in a circle and gave the woman the ticket," she said. "It was free, but I wound up in the same place."
The garage costs $3 for the first hour and $1 an hour after that. It's free for those passing through in less than 10 minutes.
This stretch of road behind the mall is the same one where parking attendants were called out by the Daily News in March for posting bogus no-parking signs bearing an unauthorized NYPD emblem on meters to lure drivers into the garage.
Mall officials said that in this case, a sign posted at the intersection of 90th St. and 57thAve. gives drivers fair warning, and that the cones are there for safety.
"Without those cones and signage the traffic flow is very limited," said Jeff Owen, senior property manager at the mall. "It ensures that the traffic flows more consistently and more safely."
On the days that the cones are in place, all eastbound traffic is forced to use just one lane, which is funneled into the garage.
Owen said the cones are "absolutely not" there to attract more customers into the garage.
City Councilman Daniel Dromm (D-Jackson Heights) said the mall is "using tactics that don't make sense."
"They need to cease and desist these types of practices immediately," he said.
The city Transportation Department said that the mall did not need a permit to use traffic cones on 57th Ave. because the NYPD granted permission.
After The News began asking questions about the setup, mall officials said they will now allow drivers past the cone barricade at the garage entrance.
"Traffic agents will allow access onto 92nd St. from 57th Ave. for any driver that does not wish to enter the parking garage," said mall spokeswoman Dawn Simon.