The Q at Parkside

(for those for whom the Parkside Q is their hometrain)

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.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Empire Reconstruction Project Moves Forward

In the Q's mythical fantasy he fell on his sword for the good of the people. Not accurate though - the government does what the government does. After losing my gig as chair at CB9 over this project and subsequent vociferous defense of a need for traffic fixes and improvements, I was however gratified to learn that DOT is moving ahead as planned. Was it the hundreds of you that signed a petition in favor that helped swayed the day? Never hurts. Was it the intrepid Committee members who stayed on despite the pro-car rancor? Sure. For months after the anti-bike anti-City crowd at CB9 had their tantrums, DOT seemed eerily quiet on the topic. I asked for an update multiple times, to the sound of City crickets. Then last night came world the DOT Commissioner had given the project the greenlight, despite the protests. And thus the project goes forward.

Thank you all who signed, and especially to the diligent committee members who stuck it out through thin and thin.

If you're coming to this issue late, I've reposted a post on the project below. I hope you'll join me when all is done for a picnic

Also note that CITIBIKE is coming to the area. Some proposed locations include:
  • Brooklyn museum
  • Sterling and Bedford
  • Rogers and Sterling
  • Bedford and Sullivan
  • Washington and Empire
  • Franklin and Montgomery (Jackie Robinson Playground)

Note, none of this is final. More public comment is required, and I would not that currently there are no plans to remove any parking.

More on the Empire Reconstruction Project, below, from the Q's post of November 6, 2015:

The other night at the CB9 meeting I realized a couple things. New things. One, I had no idea that the pro-car sentiment was so strong that it would try to kill a common sense fix to two of the most dangerous intersections in the neighborhood. Two, that one of the ways to "stick it" to people like me is to tell them how "we're going to shove your project in your face." In other words, forget about the public good. This is about personal retribution for some people. Which made me wonder whether I just need to stop being so public about my feelings.
First off, this is not MY project that I invited to present at the meeting. This is a DOT initiative funded with Federal dollars that were placed into the budget years ago by then Congressman Major Owens. To put it in perspective - this project was but dream years ago, when one could only imagine a day when you could fix messed up intersections that needed a full redesign. The money became available, good people have been working on it for months, and now a few bike-hating zealots want to shut it down? I don't think so. Not if you can help it. I'll probably need to duck out the back door and let you convince your CB9 board member neighbors that saving lives and creating green public spaces is being civic-minded and forward-thinking.
The only big problem with the way DOT has tried to sell the project is that while it's called the Empire Boulevard Reconstruction Project, it really involves just two multi-angle intersections that are more than a mile apart. You probably know Franklin/Empire/Washington really well, if you're reading this here blog. It's a hot mess, all times of the day. The other intersection is also beyond ridiculous, in construction and right-of-ways and dead spaces, but it's a lot harder for me to gauge the need because I don't see it very often. Go check it out though - Empire at Utica and East New York, Remsen and then Schenectady. Dreadful. Bizarre. But I'll leave it to someone else to make the case in detail. I like what DOT is proposing there, but it's not the part of the project that I'm willing to draw blood (my own!) for.
Exhibit A below shows OUR problem location. If you have a small child, you know precisely how dangerous is this intersection. Cars come from all angles, jostling for position to make the beginnings or ends of light cycles. The tiny chunk of Franklin that veers off to the right as you head up Washington only adds to the sense of, shall we say, adventure. Often a bicyclist or pedestrian becomes stranded somewhere. If you're not paying attention, you can get injured or killed. In fact hundreds of accidents have taken place at this and the other project intersection in the last five years, with 29 people maimed or killed.

So DOT, after months of analysis and data crunching, has offered a solution, and has the money to pay for it. You need only look at the traffic flow to see how crazy it all is:

The proposed design will not hinder drivers in the slightest. Yes, you won't be able to sneak up the tube at Franklin, but that's one of the major confusion factors. DOT wants to send you up to Empire on Washington to turn right. Like just about every other intersection in the Western world. Western BEEF notwithstanding.

Best part of closing that bit of Franklin is that it gives you some space to put trees and benches. Add some neckdowns - you've seen them on Flatbush past Grand Army Plaza, between Park Slope and Prospect Heights. For elderly and children in particularly, these shorter intersections are a godsend. AND you don't have lengthen the traffic signals to provide safety. Cars move, people move, (okay here it comes) bicycles move. Everybody moves. No one gets hurt. As much. Hurray!

Let me share my favorite complaint, after DOT presented the landscaping, seen below. And it's not the first time I've heard it. "What do you need trees for? You've got Prospect Park just a block away!" Look, if you hate trees so much, maybe I finally can understand the bizarre attachment to the Western Beef parking lot. Which is nearly never full!!! It's like I'm living in a world so topsy turvy that people wear pizza and eat shoes. And hate trees. Actually, I guess that part is already true.

If you care about such things, I urge you to come to the next Board meeting and voice your support. Or start a petition. Or come to the Committee meeting where we'll resurrect this and revote. That's Wednesday, Nov 18 at the CB9 clubhouse, 890 Nostrand near Carroll. Questions just email me.


BrooklynAve said...

Yay!! Best news I have heard all day!

Anonymous said...

thank god

Alex said...

More of this, please. Much more.

DougB said...

Wow - that's unexpected. These intersections are such big hazards for pedestrians. It would have been great if the school crossing guards and the PTAs of the schools in both these areas could have made their voices more heard a year or more ago.

At that time I didn't appreciate how bad that Utica/Remsen/East NY Ave triangle is. Now I drive through it every morning taking kids to school - and I along with about half of all drivers weave eastbound through the turning traffic on East NY Ave and we drive all over a bike lane to squeeze as many of us through that intersection as we can. It can only get better.

elbell said...

hey there...when are you going to cover the massive debate going on re the homeless shelter at 267 Rogers? Seems like you'd have an interesting take on the situation.

Anonymous said...

Thank God! I am also very puzzled by my neighbors who do not want trees. I don't get it. I had requested trees for them. Some of my neighbors were so angry, and claimed the trees will hurt their sewers and that's why they chopped them down over the years. Once the trees were planted, it appears like one of them was chopped down, and some type of liquid was used to kill the tree. I don't understand this type of mentality. Trees benefits our environment and planet in so many ways. I'm perplexed.

Clarkson FlatBed said...

Elbell: Thx for the reminder. I just posted on it!

Anon 2:59. Same thing on my block. Whenever I get perplexed about stuff like this, and we had the same conversations on our block, I chock it up to two things.

One, the City and neighborhood were very different back in the 80s and 90s and trees may not have been as popular for a host of reasons, including safety (lighting, places for kids to hang or hide etc)

Two, there's a cultural thing. Like, I feel pretty comfortable having lived in the nabe saying that most West Indians don't like dogs for pets. Lots of young newcomers do. I'm not sure there's a lot to be gleaned from the tree thing's the tree thing.

If it makes you feel better, I'm on your side.