Neighbors worry footbridge connecting Montague St. to Brooklyn Bridge Park will bring circus to their door
Dean: Risks ‘changing the character of our neighborhood’
Building a footbridge connecting Montague Street to Brooklyn Bridge Park will ruin the “peace and relaxation” of the Brooklyn Heights Promenade and infringe on the Promenade’s protected views, say some Heights residents who live near Montague Street.
They are quietly pushing back against a campaign by a group called Connect Montague for a direct link from the Promenade to the waterfront green space.
A long list of officials and groups, including Community Board 2 and the Brooklyn Heights Association (BHA) have endorsed at least exploring the idea, Connect Montague representative Steve Rothman told members of the Montague Street BID on Thursday. With the planned $2-billion renovation of the cantilevered portion of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway (BQE) under the Promenade “the time is now,” he said.
Montague Street is already Brooklyn Heights’ main commercial thoroughfare, and the increased pedestrian traffic would be a boost to businesses, said Kate Chura, executive director of the Montague Street Business Improvement District. No one at Thursday’s meeting spoke out against the idea.
But Rick Dean, president of the co-op board at 2 Montague Terrace, says the idea requires much more study before any support is given. The stately 2 Montague Terrace is adjacent to the walkway connecting Montague Street to the Promenade.
In a letter to the BHA, Dean said a Montague Street entrance could kill the neighborhood.
“The addition of an as of yet undefined park access point on the Promenade, with undetermined physical characteristics and potentially dramatic increases in foot traffic risks drastically changing the character of our neighborhood, damaging the unique qualities of the Promenade as a place of peace and relaxation, infringing on the Scenic View District which the BHA has fought so hard to preserve and potentially impacting the quality of life in our Landmarked Historic neighborhood in ways I have not even imagined,” said Dean wrote.
BHA had testified regarding issues of park access and public safety in a hearing held by DOT regarding the Environmental Impact Analysis that DOT will conduct on the BQE project.*
Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon told the Brooklyn Eagle on Monday, “It makes sense to explore the idea. It may be that it’s technically infeasible. It may be that it’s too disruptive or lengthens the roadwork. There’s no question the entire [BQE] triple cantilever repair will be disruptive.
“The point is, there should be civic engagement,” she added. “I want to hear people’s concerns. Exploring the idea doesn’t mean ignoring concerns.”
Other elected officials backing the plan’s exploration, in a June 12 letter to DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg, include U.S. Rep. Nydia M. Velazquez, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, state Sen. Brian Kavanagh and Councilmember Stephen Levin.
Trouble on Joralemon
Roughly 5 million people visited the park last summer. During recent summers, residents of cobblestoned Joralemon Street have increasingly reported “impassable sidewalks, all night long noise, trash and harassment,” along with an increase in crime.
“I sympathize with my neighbors …” Dean wrote. “Their experience serves as the best example as to why any new access point needs to be carefully and thoroughly studied and planned before any BHA support is given.”
In April, DOT issued the following statement: “DOT has committed to studying the feasibility of additional pedestrian access to Brooklyn Bridge Park from a number of Brooklyn Heights locations. Feasibility criteria include meeting the ADA requirements in addition to the needs of the overall project concepts [which] will be developed by DOT and shared with community over next few months. The design and implementation of potential pedestrian access will be completed by the Design Build Team, with DOT’s input.”
*Update 6-26-18: The Brooklyn Heights Association did not sign a letter to NYC Department of Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg endorsing an investigation of the footbridge idea, as previously reported. That letter was signed by the area’s elected officials.
The following groups support asking the Department of Transportation to explore additional access to Brooklyn Bridge Park:
• Montague Street BID
• U.S. Rep. Nydia M. Velazquez
• Brooklyn Heights Association
• Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams
• Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation
• State Sen. Brian Kavanagh
• Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy
• The Willowtown Association
• Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon
• Councilmember Stephen Levin
• Fulton Ferry Landing Association
• Atlantic Avenue BID
• Downtown Brooklyn Partnership
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