The NYC Department of Transportation has accepted the Fulton Area Business Alliance's application for creating a plaza at Fulton and Lafayette as part of its NYC Plaza Program. The Fulton Area Business Alliance (called F.A.B.) submitted the application along with letters of support from the FGA, Community Board 2, Tish, Marty, several businesses surrounding Fowler Square and individuals - including Howard Pitsch and Ruth Goldstein.
This proposal is a waste of time and money and will only cause more problems for our already-congested area. The Fulton Area Business Alliance wants to spin this as creating an exciting new urban space – an idyllic "Gateway to Fort Greene." To us civilians on the ground, it's just another STREET CLOSING AND LAND GRAB* – on an essential through-street. The plan must not be allowed to come to fruition.
What's in it for us? Very little – unless you are a business owner or member of FAB – the Fulton Area Business Alliance who came up with this super idea. For drivers on South Elliott Place, even less.
By removing that one small street, (which is NOT "virtually used" as a CB2 rep claims) the residents from South Elliott Place, as well as Brooklyn Tech drivers, will be very inconvenienced. And the only "benefits" for the surrounding blocks (and the rest of the community) will be more traffic, more wasted fuel, more noise from horn honking and idiling vehicles, more loitering, more street garbage, more pollution, more accidents, less parking spaces, and more wasted time.
For example: For motorists who want to drive west (down to Flatbush) from the corner of South Elliott - instead of just driving one little block and making a right on Fulton (see map on left), with this plan, they would be forced to make three additional left turns and go through additional traffic lights, driving in a huge circle around the entire block; through busy two-way South Portland Avenue, then making a left on equally-swamped DeKalb Avenue. That DeKalb corner is already very hazardous to motorists, pedestrians, dogs and bicylists; it has no traffic light and poor visibility – and because South Portland is a two-way street, drivers also access it from DeKalb.
This proposal will also create more traffic on busy South Oxford Street - which is one more block further east but is one-way to DeKalb, and has a traffic light on DeKalb. South Oxford is already a dangerous speedway, with careless drivers rushing to make the short light.
Currently, when those South Elliott drivers want to head south (to Atlantic Avenue and beyond), there are numerous routes available. With the proposed street removal, only one direct local option will remain; to go left and detour right down South Portland Avenue – to the already-super-congested three-block stretch between Lafayette and Atlantic Avenues – and wait in line. (And South Portland intersects Atlantic right next to the new Basketball Arena and Shopping Malls).
This plan is just another example of someone else deciding what is best for the residents of Fort Greene with little or no input from the real immediate neighborhood - meaning South Elliott residents and Brooklyn Tech-ers. Much too often, these types of civic projects are more about what is is best for the planners themselves.
And with the nearby Barclays Arena, with its 200+ events a year – combined with the numerous marathon Board of Education meetings at Brooklyn Tech's huge auditorium, the neighborhood's quality of life is endangered. (A few positive notes: If you are homeless, the FAB "Plaza" provides you a place to hang out, with nice chairs and tables, just like in Times Square. And if you are a dog, there is plenty of discarded food scraps, spare rib bones and garbage left on the "plaza.")
We already support the Fulton Area businesses by shopping and eating at their establishments daily. Why should we give up our street? And what's next? Are they going to want to turn our stretch of Fulton Street into a permanent pedestrian mall like they did on four Sundays last June? This is not Bourbon Street.
If we really must have a "Gateway to Fort Greene," why not liberate the larger block-sized, lush BAM Garden park, right on the opposite corner to Fowler Square? It may be the largest underutilized outdoor space in the community. Tear down those fences. Open it up for the residents, Fix it up. Put the chairs and tables there, where no one will be disturbed or detoured. That would be a much friendlier welcome mat to the world.