Designs on the Putnam Triangle

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Last night the Department of Transportation and the Fulton Area Businesses Alliance (FAB) held a public meeting on the proposal to transform Clinton Hill’s Putnam Triangle into a pedestrian plaza. The plaza would cover 15,000 square feet and include the sidewalk on Putnam as well as the street itself between Fulton and Grand. Because it is in its earliest stages, the DOT laid out several design options, which included a painted green design on the street, epoxy gravel, tables, chairs and public art. The department said there’s also a lot of potential for community events like cooking demonstrations, craft fairs, and games.

But nearby residents did express some concerns. One woman, who said she’s started a petition against the plaza, asked “What if people just don’t want this?” Others were concerned the plaza would exacerbate current crime in the area. Phillip Kellogg of FAB, who says he has received positive input about the plaza from nearby business owners, said tables and chairs would not stay out all night, thus discouraging loitering. In the near future, meanwhile, the NYPD will install 24-hour security cameras at the triangle. Both CB2 Chairperson John Dew and Councilwoman Tish James spoke in favor of the proposal. James summed it up by saying, “This is the most troubling corner in Clinton Hill. Let’s address it by bringing people into the community.”
Putnam Triangle May Get a Pedestrian Plaza [Brownstoner] GMAP

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  • Wow. I didn’t realize this involved an entire block of Putnam the street-itself-wow. I am all for this idea, and I like the little flower boxes The Fulton Grand put up to cordon off its sidewalk border.

    The “what if we just don’t want this” argument is not the most captivating one. If “we” is a majority, it might have legs. My guess is that it’s not.

    There were signs up next to the future food co-op calling the proponents of this project “Williamsburgers” too. Funny word.

  • I like the idea of connecting the triangle with storefronts. The other triangles along Fulton just seem to be pretty dead because they don’t invite use. I think the conversion of unused or underused commercial spaces into more lively uses is the best weapon against illicit street activities. To the extent that this new plaza can extend places like Hill Cafe (nee Kush) out into the public street, and allow the expansion of the greenspace into the unbelievably large amount of concrete we have there, it will be good. I suspect I know who the naysayer was, and while she can be thoughtful on some issues, she tends to be a kind of “I’ve lived with this trash in the streets for the last 30 years, why are you complaining” kind of person. There can also be a suspicion of why these improvements are taking place now with the changed demographic rather than in years past. But that isn’t really an argument for not doing them now.

  • wasder

    I love this idea. The “most troubling corner in Clinton Hill” has already gotten a lot less troubling in recent years but now it could reach its full potential as a public space and defacto community center. Its such a large space and with all the new businesses that have opened there recently the triangle could be a place to sit, eat, meet, play chess etc. More trees and less concrete would be a welcome development as well.

  • Wow. I also didn’t realize that what they meant was to get rid of Putnam as a through street between Grand and Fulton. I’m a little worried about the loitering – it’s waaay down from what it was when I moved there, but the drug dealers (particularly that woman on her bike, I just hate her) might think it’ll be very useful. And will the corner store and the hair salon get pushed out? I really like those guys, and wouldn’t want the changes to mean they’d move. And also, what about trash? Are people going to leave the plaza and trail their garbage along Grand Avenue? Many questions, I now wish I didn’t have other commitments last night so I could have attended.

    One terrific thing closing Putnam will do is stop the smirking B26 bus drivers from zooming past you when you can’t catch their bus at the corner of Putnam and Downing!

  • wasder

    I think closing that block of Putnam to vehicle traffic would have a great traffic calming effect at that corner, where people already disregard the stoplights and stop signs with great regularity and aggression. In re the trash, the BID is doing a pretty damn good job picking up the trash in the triangle already so I am not too worried about that. I make a point to thank the guys who do this work when I see them as I think its one of the absolutely best results of the BID so far.