Over the weekend, The New York Times delved more deeply into the controversy over replacing the historic Belgian blocks in Vinegar Hill. The Department of Transportation wants to dig up and replace the old stones with new ones and reorient them to comply with the American With Disabilities Act and put a bike lane through the neighborhood connecting all of Brooklyn and Queens. To appease critics, the DOT has proposed artificially pre-weathering the stones to look old, “like a pair of stonewashed jeans,” as the story put it. Neighborhood residents and historic preservations are appalled. Do you think the DOT should proceed with its plan or should an exception be made for Vinegar Hill, arguably a unique, not to mention tiny, enclave?
To Replace Old Cobblestones, Old-Looking Cobblestones [NY Times]
Photo by the known universe
A Change.org petition is up to build a pedestrian access route along the Verrazano Bridge, in honor of the Verrazano’s upcoming 50th anniversary in 2014, Brokelyn noted. The petition asks for both foot and bicycle lanes, both of which were deemed doable in a feasibility study conducted back in 1997. The petition also points out that this bridge access would complete a 50-mile walking and cycling route that goes through Brooklyn, Staten Island and New Jersey, known as the Harbor Ring. According to a recent survey, 84 percent of 700 respondents thought that they would use a pedestrian lane over the bridge. And so far more than 500 supporters have signed the petition.
Support Bike and Ped Paths on the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge [Change.org]
Photo by galsafrafoto
Every year, The L Magazine rounds up the 50 “best, worst, and most unusual” blocks in the borough of Kings. Some criteria is fairly predictable — the best people watching block is Brighton Beach Avenue, the best blocks to live on are in Park Slope, Greenpoint, Ditmas, and Brooklyn Heights — but other blocks are awarded with surprising distinctions. The best block for having sex is Waldorf Court in Midwood, because “it’s a really quiet street where you’re not likely to encounter pedestrians, and it’s in a nicely maintained part of Midwood.” The best smelling block is Front Street, between Adams and Washington streets, and the worst smelling block is Broadway, between Kosciuszko Street and Kossuth Place. Check out the article to see some of the best and worst blocks to bike on, the best block for art (in Bushwick), the best block to pretend you’re in New England (in Vinegar Hill), and the best block for mansions (Bay Ridge).
The 50 Best Blocks in Brooklyn [The L Magazine]
Photo of the Best Block to Pretend It’s the 18th Century, Albemarle Terrace, by The L
The Department of Transportation plans to repair the Carroll Street Bridge over the Gowanus Canal starting around April 1. The bridge will be closed to all traffic, including pedestrians and bicycles, for at least four months. The Carroll Street Bridge was built in 1888 and was landmarked in 1987, according to The Bridges of NYC blog, and is the oldest of only four retractable bridges in the U.S., meaning it rolls back horizontally on wheels over steel rails. The scope of work to restore it includes replacing the timber deck, restoring the expansion joints, and replacing stiffeners, angles and plates. The DOT will also clean and paint the structural steel, reset pavers, fix up the sidewalk, and install new timber curbs and rubber dock fenders. The work is scheduled to be completed in August.
Photo by the City of New York
The Department of Transportation plans to narrow 4th Avenue in Bay Ridge to one lane on each side in an effort to slow traffic and improve safety. The changes are part of an ongoing effort to make the avenue throughout Brooklyn less congested and dangerous. The avenue is tied with Eastern Parkway and Avenue U as the third most dangerous for pedestrians in Brooklyn. Between 2008 and 2010, four pedestrians were killed on 4th Avenue. The new design came out of public workshops on how to improve 4th Avenue, reported The Brooklyn Paper. Some Bay Ridge residents oppose the new plan, and say recent changes to improve 4th Avenue in Sunset Park have made congestion worse rather than relieving it. The DOT said it will “tweak” the plans and submit them to Community Board 10 for approval. Above, 4th Avenue and 86th Street.
City Plans Narrower Thoroughfare to Stop Speeders [Brooklyn Paper]
Closing Bell: Upcoming Meetings for 4th Avenue [Brownstoner]
Photo by DOT via Brooklyn Paper
Yesterday we told you about the DOT meeting this Wednesday concerning streetscape improvements in Dumbo and Vinegar Hill, and according to this week’s Streetsblog calendar, there’s a lot more happening around Brooklyn concerning street improvements and bike lanes.
Tonight Community Board Two’s Transportation Committee will hear plans from the DOT to extend the Jay Street bike lanes north of Tillary Street into Dumbo, allowing for safer access onto the Manhattan Bridge. The meeting‘s tonight at 180 Remsen Street from 6 pm to 8 pm. The New York Post also noted that DOT will head out to Coney Island tonight and present a proposal to add a plaza of tables, chairs and potted plants at the southern end of Stillwell Avenue. On Thursday the DOT is holding an open house in Bay Ridge to present design concepts for safety improvements on 4th Avenue from 65th Street to Shore Road. That’s at P.S. 264, 371 89th Street, from 6:30 pm to 7:30 pm. Also on Thursday, the DOT will attend Community Board Six’s transportation meeting to present a proposal for installing a new pair of bike lanes on Union Street (eastbound) and Sackett Street (westbound) between Van Brunt Street and 3rd Avenue. There’s also a proposal for bike corrals at 153 Columbia Street (between Kane and Degraw) and 787 Union Street (between 5th and 6th avenues). And one last meeting for Thursday: the DOT and Councilmember Mathieu Eugene will discuss traffic conditions on Cortelyou Road at Temple Isaac, 1419 Dorchester Road, at 6:30 pm. The last event of the week, planned this Friday, is a half-day conference at City Tech on biking in Brooklyn, with a focus on cycling along the waterfront. The event is free but you must register here. UPDATE: The DOT postponed its meeting with Community Board Two regarding the Jay Street bike lanes to April. And the DOT and Mathieu Eugene have rescheduled the Cortelyou Road traffic meeting for sometime in April, date TBD.
This Week: Brooklyn Bikeways and Traffic Calming [Streetsblog]
Photo by dcorbin3
This Wednesday, the Department of Transportation is hosting its third public input session for the streetscape reconstruction of Dumbo and Vinegar Hill. Recently Vinegar Hill residents set up two petitions against changing the historic Belgian blocks of the neighborhood, so that’s sure to come up. The DOT will present strategies for cobble reconstruction based on previous public input. They are taking more public comments at this meeting as well. Also on the agenda: the design of the Pearl Street Triangle Plaza, where the Dumbo BID has had plans in place for years to transform into a permanent public space. Back in 2011 the Dumbo BID secured $20 million dollars for these big street improvements. The meeting on Wednesday is at the NYU-Poly Incubator, 20 Jay Street, Suite 312, from 6 pm to 8 pm.
Photo of the last DOT session by the Dumbo BID
A proposed new design for Q Plaza, above, can be seen at the blog The Q At Parkside. The design will improve the all-cement corner with seating and trees, just outside the Q stop at Parkside near the Southeast corner of Prospect Park in Prospect Lefferts Gardens. The renderings were created by local In Cho and presented to the Department of Transportation. Since the area is so close to the park, the DOT would not normally support adding greenery here, but the change can happen if locals support it, said the DOT. And so a group has been formed to do just that, The Q At Parkside reported.
Makeover Time for the Q Plaza [The Q At Parkside]
Two petitions just emerged out of Vinegar Hill about proposed streetscape changes to the neighborhood, which leave, as Curbed put it, “residents of the tiny ten-block enclave less than thrilled.” The first petition asks the city to preserve the original belgian block streets in Vinegar Hill and opposes the “use of machine-made or machine-altered cobblestones of any kind.” The original blocks are scheduled to be removed for infrastructure changes along Water Street, as well as a bike lane down Water. The second petition specifically asks that the bike lane planned within the Brooklyn Greenway skip Vinegar Hill altogether, considering that the DOT plans to make the path by reconfiguring the Belgian blocks by rotating them lengthwise. The Brooklyn Greenway would stretch three blocks through Vinegar Hill on Water and Plymouth Streets. The DOT already undertook a similar project down in Dumbo, which mostly restored the old Belgian blocks and added new blocks to create a bike lane along Water. In our humble opinion the restoration job did a good job of eliminating potholes and uneven paving as well as accommodating bikers. Do you think the proposed streetscape changes threaten the historic feel of the neighborhood?
Vinegar Hill Residents Really Don’t Want Bike Lanes [Curbed]
The City of New York: Preserve Original Belgian Block Streets in Vinegar Hill [Change.org]
The City of New York: Bypass Vinegar Hill When Implementing the Brooklyn Greenway [Change.org]
Photo by jackie weisberg
This week the Public Design Commission finally approved the plans for the Myrtle Plaza, a pedestrian-streets design for Myrtle Avenue between Hall Street and Emerson Place. The plan to revamp the avenue, add community programing and public art, and construct a two-block pedestrian plaza between Hall and Grand has long been delayed. Specific improvements include better crossings, new bus stops, new trees and planters, game tables, a water fountain, a permanent art installation, and moveable tables and chairs. Myrtle Minutes reported that construction will begin this summer and will last for more than a year. The Myrtle Avenue Brooklyn Partnership has a Flickr set with all the proposed designs for the avenue.
Public Design Commission Approves Designs for Myrtle Plaza [Myrtle Minutes]
Photo via myrtle_avenue_brooklyn
A bike corral that takes up one parking space on the street on Franklin Avenue in Crown Heights has sparked a heated debate, reported The New York Times. The bike parking, which sits in front of the cafe Little Zelda, was installed there at the request of the owners of the cafe. They went through the standard approval process, including asking permission of the community board. But now longtime residents and other retailers on the street say they were not consulted. The corral, which has become a symbol of newcomers and gentrification, according to the article, will be a topic on the agenda of a town-hall meeting next month planned by the Crow Hill Community Association.
Parking Spot Causes Fight (No Drivers Are Involved) [NY Times]
Photo by Amy Sara Clark for Prospect Heights Patch
While the Brooklyn Greenway gains traction in Williamsburg, it’s also set to make progress in Red Hook. This Thursday, February 21st, the city’s Department of Transportation will present a proposal to Community Board Six’s Transportation Committee to extend the Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway from Van Brunt and Summit Streets to Valentino Park. According the the Brooklyn Greenway Initiative, the DoT will reveal improvements that they can act on within the year. Of course, it is part of the bigger, long-term capital project to extend a greenway all the way from Greenpoint to Sunset Park. If you’re interested in attending the meeting, it’s at 6:30 pm at Long Island College Hospital, Room A.
The proposed Red Hook route, via BGI
Community Board Two and the Empire State Development Corporation sent out a notice, and the above map, about traffic changes now in effect around the Atlantic Yards construction site. Those changes include the following: Pacific Street (between Sixth and Carlton avenues) will be converted from two-way to a one-way heading west. Vehicles will be able to access this block from both northbound and southbound Carlton Avenue. The north sidewalk on Pacific Street (between Sixth and Carlton avenues only) will be closed to pedestrian traffic. Sidewalks on the south side of this block will remain open. Finally, parking along the north side of Pacific Street (between Sixth and Carlton avenues only) will be prohibited. These changes will be in place for eight months.
Residents living near the Barclays Center are concerned about the plan to remove 20 street trees next week on Pacific Street between Carlton and 6th Avenues to facilitate construction at Atlantic Yards. This also includes removal of the street tree bed guards which were paid for by the developer of the condo building at 700 Pacific Street. Forest City Ratner has not told residents when and if the trees will be replaced, which has caused frustration with nearby neighbors. At a recent Quality of Life meeting hosted by the Empire State Development Corporation, the Parks Department — which issued the permits to cut down the trees — did not show up.
According to the tipster, “the removal of these street trees is added to the elimination of street trees along 6th Avenue due to construction, (still not restored), and the recent removal of newly planted trees around Barclays Center because of pedestrian safety issues.” Atlantic Yards Watch also tackled the issue today and bemoans the lack of green space or amenities provided so far by Forest City Ratner: “This reduction in permanent street trees, combined with the elimination of the private green arena roof and extended construction schedule means residents of the arena block will wait longer for fewer ‘green’ amenities than planned in 2006 when the project was approved.”
The Myrtle Avenue Revitalization Partnership has pushed for safety improvements along Park Avenue for a while now, and they share the good news that the city’s Department of Transportation will install nine streetlights along the avenue. MARP and Architecture for Humanity wrote about the inadequate lighting in the Park Avenue Safety Plan and the DoT deemed the findings conclusive. So, by the end of 2013, streetlights will be installed at the following intersections: Park Avenue and Grand Avenue; Park Avenue and Ryerson Street; Park Avenue and Clinton Avenue; Park Avenue and Carlton Avenue; Park Ave and Steuben Street; Park Avenue and Washington Avenue. They will also be installed on Carlton Avenue, Adelphi Street and on North Portland Avenue.
Park Avenue Update: Let There be Light [Myrtle Minutes]
The Atlantic Avenue BID released a Request for Proposal to envision a safer, re-designed space along Atlantic Avenue underneath the BQE. According to the organization, “we are interested in what can be done to make this space a meaningful transition zone and gateway to both Brooklyn Bridge Park and Atlantic Avenue. On either side of the highway are really wonderful destinations and this underpass is truly serving as an unpleasant barrier.” In December DNAinfo reported that the city’s Department of Small Business Services awarded the BID $75,000 for the project. The BID has already worked with the non-profit design group Planning Corps to come up with a rendering of possibilities for the underpass, above. The BID will only be accepting applications until Tuesday, February 26th.
Atlantic Avenue BID Secures Funding to Improve BQE Underpass [DNAinfo]
The Park Slope Civic Council reported on its recent meeting regarding safety measures for the Fourth Avenue corridor between Pacific Street and the Prospect Expressway. The group identified problem areas on the avenue, looked at big picture issues and created a “wish list” for implementing safety measures. Everyone seemed to agree on the major problem of how uninviting and dangerous 4th Avenue is to pedestrians due to speeding, the absence of greenery and the narrow medians. Suggestions included widening the medians and adding greenery, more trash bins and pick up, a separated bike lane, traffic calming and a safety plan around school zones. All this work is in anticipation of the Fourth Avenue Safety Visioning Workshop to be attended by the Department of Transportation, Marty Markowitz and the Fourth Avenue Task Force. The workshop is scheduled for next Tuesday, February 12, from 7 to 9 pm, at St. Thomas Aquinas Church, 249 9th Street (Downstairs in the Parish Hall, enter on Fourth Avenue).
Despite postponements, the Flatbush Avenue Capital Streetscape project moves ahead little by litte. Tomorrow morning, the broken clock at the 6th Avenue and Flatbush triangle will be taken down. According to the North Flatbush Avenue BID, the clock will be replaced by a new Madison Victorian clock, although it won’t be installed until 2014. The Flatbush “triangles” are all due for major upgrades. Pictured above is the rendering of the 6th Avenue Triangle with more pedestrian seating and landscaping.
Rendering by W Architecture and Landscape Architecture, via the Architect’s Newspaper
Just in case you missed the public presentation of the Fulton Street Vision Plan, it’s now available to view online. The three architecture firms working on this project, as well as the Fulton Area Business Alliance, are still seeking input on the design and use of public spaces, opportunities for vacant lots, retail options and any and all community concerns. The Fulton Street presentation will also be posted across nine windows of the Brooklyn Plaza Medical Center, right across from Fowler Square Plaza. The display will go up Thursday and remain there through February. You can submit all your feedback on the plan right here. As explained on the FAB website, “The idea is to think of the concepts shown here in the context of an overall vision for Fulton Street that comes from inherent qualities of the physical spaces and reflects the character of the neighborhood.”
The Fulton Area Business Alliance’s application to make the Putnam Triangle Plaza permanent has been accepted by the Department of Transportation. Phillip Kellogg at the alliance says, “that means a full design based on community input (more public design charrettes to come) and a complete capital construction build-out for the new public space. Details and timelines to come.” The DOT installed the plaza in the fall of 2011. With the recent grand opening of the permanent Willoughby Square Plaza, Community Board Two’s vote to make Fowler Square permanent, and this news, it looks like public plazas are here to stay.