Flatbush Ave. businesses call for moratorium on traffic congestion program
BP Adams: Local stakeholders need a voice in city’s decisions
Monday was the first day of the NYC Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Clear Curbs pilot program along Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn, and local business owners were not happy.
“This morning it was like a SWAT team, with police vehicles, tow trucks, people getting ticketed. It was kind of a mess,” Regina Cahill, president of the North Flatbush BID, told the Brooklyn Eagle.
The program restricts curbside parking and loading along Flatbush Avenue from Grand Army Plaza to Tillary Street during weekday peak hours, and is meant to ease congestion along the busy thoroughfare.
But local shopkeepers say they were not consulted by the city before it devised the plan, and — coming on top of two major infrastructure projects already disrupting the area — insist there needs to be a moratorium.
Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams joined business owners and the BID on Monday to call for the city to take local business concerns into consideration.
While Mayor Bill de Blasio’s plan to ease traffic congestion is a worthy goal, “We need to figure it out and get it right. And the only way to do that is to have the stakeholders involved,” he told reporters at a news conference on Flatbush at Sixth Avenue, the site of a DOT construction project transforming a traffic triangle. The triangle is one of three (at Sixth, Seventh and Carlton Avenues along Flatbush) being rebuilt in a $5.2 million makeover.
“There is no one size fits all when dealing with congestion in this city, especially in a business district,” he said, adding, “We must be clear that the goal in ending congestion is not to damage or hurt our small businesses, who are our lifeblood. If we’re going to tackle chronic obstruction of our streets, we also have to tackle chronic obstruction of communication between government and small businesses.”
Area Already Besieged by Major Infrastructure Construction
Major gas and water lines upgrades have disrupting local businesses for about a year, and another year of work is projected, Cahill told the Eagle. Water mains have been turned off periodically, and many of the businesses affected are restaurants or health care providers, which are especially dependent on water, she said.
The new parking and loading restrictions put “another nail in the coffin, so to speak,” Cahill said.
“At best, there should be a moratorium on this until construction is done,” she said. “You can’t do a trial project if you have adverse conditions that aren’t going to give you the appropriate data to make a judgement call on whether it’s appropriate.
James Ellis, executive director of the North Flatbush BID said that delivery zones being allocated as part of the project don’t adequately serve the area’s businesses.
“There are five blocks of businesses not being covered by any delivery zones,” he said.
He added that local businesses were only notified about a week before the city’s action, saying the city had to make more of an effort to coordinate with the community.
Matt Pintchik, VP of Pintchik hardware store, said that in the 105 years of the store’s existence, “We have never felt the pressures until recently that we have been experiencing, on top of the pressures that all bricks and mortars are going through today. Congestion as a function of construction has made it extremely difficult,” he said, adding that some businesses are “just on the edge of having to close.
“To do this test at this time absolutely makes no sense, and we implore our mayor to rethink this at this time. It would be very sad to lose a number of these businesses who have been here for many years,” he added.
Adams said DOT figures show roughly 90 percent of goods are moved by truck in Brooklyn, and the increased number of truck deliveries has led to more double parking, slower traffic and greater risks for cyclists and pedestrians.
BID’s Cahill said, “I’ve been here for over 42 years and it’s always been inbound no parking in the morning, outbound no parking in the evening, and that seemed to work. There was no real enforcement on the avenue during those times.”
Those existing restrictions just need to be enforced, she suggested.
Flatbush Avenue, one of Brooklyn’s most congested commercial corridors, is one of three thoroughfares targeted by Mayor Bill de Blasio in a series of initiatives designed to ease congestion citywide. Two other streets, one in Manhattan and one in Queens, are also piloting the program.
The mayor’s plan to reduce congestion includes other tactics citywide such as the Clear Lanes, Clear Intersections, Clear Zones and Clear Highways initiatives.
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