Monday, June 21, 2010

CHA calls for safety improvements

At the base of Atlantic Avenue, sits the newly created Pier 6 playground with beautiful views of the Manhattan skyline and active amenities for Brooklyn children to run, jump, climb, dig, and play on. The waterfront spot could be a tremendous resource for our green-space starved borough – if only there was a safe way of getting there.
The Cobble Hill Association has long supported a completely public park with active recreation, and delights seeing neighborhood children using the brand new Pier 6. However, there have been many concerns from the community regarding access to the park. The Atlantic Avenue – Columbia/Furman Street intersection has long needed traffic-calming measures, and now the situation is severe.  Children dart across the swath of asphalt without any pedestrian refuge islands, and stroller moms must wheel carriages hurriedly to avoid speeding traffic from Furman’s excessive road width, while also contending with entering/exiting traffic on the BQE.

Representing the neighborhood’s concerns, CHA board members are pushing for immediate improvements. Association President Roy Sloane brought a motion to the Community Board 6 Transportation Committee asking NYC Department of Transportation to begin temporary safety improvements now, and pursue a long-term traffic plan that would ease crossing for all users.

The Brooklyn Bridge Park Defense Fund along with CHA officers Roy Sloane and Murray Adams met with Councilman Brad Lander to request urgent remediation of the dangerous conditions. He shares our concerns and asked DOT to design safer pedestrian routes from Cobble Hill to Pier 6 to navigate the trip down either Columbia or Atlantic, across the BQE entrance ramps, across their Pier 7 truck gate.  Thankfully, DOT is aware of the problem and working to design solutions.  They indicated they would have some designs within weeks.

Even before the playground was designed, the Cobble Hill Association & other community groups foresaw the potential danger of creating a park without safe access. In 2004, Roy Sloane met with Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez and received $1 million for a Brooklyn Bridge Park Transportation Access Study, performed by Sam Schwartz Engineering.  Though many great recommendations were made, including specific changes to crosswalks and the park’s Atlantic Avenue Gateway, none have been implemented yet. Rest assured, the CHA will continue pressing our elected officials and DOT for the safety enhancements the neighborhood has been adamantly requesting. 

Just recently, our neighbors to the north, the Brooklyn Heights Association, have also reached out to DOT regarding pedestrian safety. A full report is available here on the Brooklyn Heights Blog. We look forward to working with all stakeholders to create a safe approach to the new children’s playground.

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