Beautifying Fourth Avenue: Task Force Formed

January 20, 2012 Brooklyn Eagle Staff
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It’s One of the Busiest
Thoroughfares in B’klyn

By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle

SUNSET PARK — When Sunset Park High School was in its planning stages, Community Board 7 formed a task force composed of civic and business leaders to work with the New York City Department of Education to ensure that the school met the needs of neighborhood students.

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The task force, led by Julie Stein-Brockway, executive director of the Center for Family Life in Sunset Park, was widely hailed as a model of community involvement in education. The task force had a hand in designing the building, made suggestions on curricula and pushed for Corrine Vinal to be selected as the principal. The school, located on Fourth Avenue and 35th Street, opened in September 2009.

Board 7 is hoping to repeat the success of the task force in the fields of transportation and neighborhood beautification.

The board has formed a task force to explore ways to improve Fourth Avenue, one of the busiest thoroughfares in Brooklyn.

The task force, headed by longtime board member Joan Botti, is already hard at work, said Board 7 District Manager Jeremy Laufer.

“It is modeled on the high school task force,” he said.

The task force will look at Fourth Avenue from 15th to 65th streets, the section of the avenue that Board 7 covers, to see where improvements can be made for the residents who live there and for people who work in businesses located along the corridor, said Board Chairman Fred Xuereb.

“The idea is to see what is needed,” he said.

Reconfiguring crosswalks at intersections to make it easier for pedestrians to get across the street is one area the task force will be studying.

Another possible improvement is the planting of trees along the avenue, Xuereb said.

“We’d like to beautify the avenue, possibly with trees on the sidewalks. We would want to put them in areas where there is a lack of trees,” he said.

The trees would be planted under the auspices of Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s “Million Trees” effort, part of the PlaNYC program. The mayor announced a goal a few years ago to have a million trees planted on city streets over the next two decades.

The board plans to reach out to business owners to “Adopt a Tree” on their street, Xuereb said.

The board’s effort to beautify Fourth Avenue is separate from Borough President Marty Markowitz’s “Brooklyn Boulevard” project. Under that project, the entire length of Fourth Avenue in Brooklyn would be revitalized with trees, benches, new sidewalks, crosswalks, and trendy shops. Markowitz has suggested re-naming Fourth Avenue “Brooklyn Boulevard.”

“We’re working with the Borough President’s Office on this. But it’s a long-term project that will take years to get to fruition,” Xuereb said. “There are things we can do right now to make Fourth Avenue better.”

In other news, the board is excited about city projects to renovate parks in Sunset Park, Laufer said.

Laufer said that Sunset Park Councilwoman Sara Gonzalez “has put a lot of money” into parks-improvement projects. Gonzalez obtained funding from the city budget to renovate the entrance of Sunset Park located on 44th Street and Sixth Avenue. The councilwoman also worked with the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation on the plans.

“The project involves installing patio seating, new benches, and plantings. The area offers great views of New York Harbor,” Laufer said.

Sunset Park is located between Fifth and Seventh avenues and runs from 41st to 44th streets.

The project also involves rebuilding the softball and soccer fields, including the installation of artificial turf, and the installation of new lights.

The comfort stations in that area of the park have already been renovated, Laufer said.

The next project involves building a new spray shower system for children. The spray showers will be located near the Sunset Park Pool, located on the Seventh Avenue side of the park. The pool was constructed in the Great Depression of the 1930s as a Works Project Administration (WPA) endeavor.

The Department of Parks is also planning to renovate other neighborhood parks and playgrounds, including Rainbow Park on Sixth Avenue and 55th Street; Martin Luther Playground on Second Avenue and 55th Street; and Sgt. John Allen Payne Park on Third Avenue and 64th Street.

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