Since way back in the ice age of 2011, when I first met Rudy Delson at the Parkisde Donut and Chicken Shop0e (before it lost charm and "expanded"), local residents have pooled their time and resources to address the lack of love on Parkside Avenue. Enough credit cannot be laid on Rudy's doormat. He's been the driving force and organizer. And the Internet Coffee House has been his Yalta, and he's convened many a meeting over Green Mountains therein. To see just how much of his vision he's accomplished so far, read my post from last March. He's been remarkably true to his vision.
Rudy and his dedicated minstrels followed through on the contest. A winner emerged and won $1,000. Then they put together a sterling proposal to the DOT's public plazas program. Yesterday we received our answer. A multi-million dollar renovation is not forthcoming. BUT, and as you can see that's a very big but, they're taken with our desire for change and want to help us revitalize the corner in front of the Q at Parkside with landscaping and amenities, to be discussed and to be continued. On Saturday night, purely coincidentally, I met at a party the very person who read and reviewed our proposal. What are the chances? She's totally excited to help us create a better, friendlier, prettier plaza. And they have some discretionary money at DOT to make it happen. Yowseh!
To call this a victory is to understate the case by a mile. Just under two years ago, no one at the City was talking about sprucing up the Q plaza. No one was talking about fixing the worst excesses of danger at that intersection, despite Carrie M's call to action. No one at MTA was talking about addressing the decay and rot of the train station itself. All have been addressed, and plans are under way. By end of 2013, expect the following to have been done, many already: the station will be rehabilitated, the corner will be safer for pedestrians, buses won't idle along Ocean causing traffic snarls, the McDonald's will have been made-over, the Moses Fried building cleaned up, the entrance to the park will have been closed to cars, the plaza will have been up-spruced, a sunny Saturday arts & crafts fair will have ended its second season, the ICH has stepped up its game, and if we agree as a community, we'll shut down that damn bottle recycling nightmare by the Pioneer (any takers? it's basically the same six people, and from talking to them it would appear they wouldn't be horribly hardshipped by a daily-limit indoor-only policy. Not for nothin' the three most frequent customers live within two blocks.)
What's the lesson? Squawk like a parrot in heat. Band together. Meet with officials. Write to the relevant agencies. Speak up at meetings. Join boards. Make and post videos. If there's an iota of consensus behind your concerns, there's a way to address them. (An example of non-consensus - at least twice a week, usually on weekends, Peppa's Jerk Chicken illegally barbecues behind its store, blanketing the neighborhood in wheeze-inducing smoke. When the Q wrote about it here, it became clear that the coughers didn't have the votes to tell a local longtime local business how or how not to blacken its chickens. Or rather, even if it had a slight majority of said votes, it wasn't worth the battle. I for one would rather live with some smokey nights rather than the knowledge that fans of Peppa's might come knocking on my door to barbecue MY wings and thighs. Consensus is not the same as democracy. It IS the opposite of autocracy though. I'm quite certain that the soul of the neighborhood depends on consensus MOST of the time, except, perhaps, where matters of safety are concerned. That awesome business that opened on Parkside near Bedford? Probably illegal as the day is long, but certainly not hurting anyone. Traffic patterns on Flatbush? Probably worth going with the safety experts rather than drivers, parkers or businesses preferences. That dude who pissed off all his neighbors by ignoring the landmark rules and creating a parking space in his front lawn? Probably worth denying his variance. Lack of a decent sit-down restaurant? I dunno...beg?)
When I mentioned to my new friend at DOT about the Flatbush trees she said she'd heard already about our plans to address those. I only sent the email to her boss, Brooklyn DOT commissioner Joe Palmieri, on Friday. Is it possible we're on a roll here? Let's meet up at the new Tugboat Coffee as soon as it opens for an espresso toast to the New Year.
The Q at Parkside
News and Nonsense from the Brooklyn neighborhood of Lefferts and environs, or more specifically a neighborhood once known as Melrose Park. Sometimes called Lefferts Gardens. Or Prospect-Lefferts Gardens. Or PLG. Or North Flatbush. Or Caledonia (west of Ocean). Or West Pigtown. Across From Park Slope. Under Crown Heights. Near Drummer's Grove. The Side of the Park With the McDonalds. Jackie Robinson Town. Home of Lefferts Manor. West Wingate. Near Kings County Hospital. Or if you're coming from the airport in taxi, maybe just Flatbush is best.