Bike lane to replace tree line on Prospect Park perimeter
Landmarks-approved plan includes the removal of 57 healthy trees along Ocean Avenue
The city Landmarks Preservation Commission approved a plan to construct a bike lane on Ocean Avenue at the edge of Prospect Park — a plan that involves the removal of dozens of trees.
“Our parks do adapt to modern uses,” Chairperson Sarah Carroll said before Tuesday’s vote to explain why she found the tree removal acceptable.
Commissioners Adi Shamir-Baron and Kim Vauss voted against the Prospect Park Alliance’s design for the project because they objected to the tree removal.
The project the city Parks Department is undertaking, with the cooperation of the city Department of Transportation, involves creating a bike lane with a protective buffer by combining a two-foot-wide swath of the grass verge beside the Ocean Avenue sidewalk and an eight-foot wide section of roadway.
Justine Heilner, Prospect Park Alliance’s senior landscape architect, said at a hearing prior to the LPC’s vote that 57 trees on Ocean Avenue will be removed because of the bike lane’s design. Another 13 trees along the bike lane will be removed because they are in poor condition, she said.
Heilner said 21 of the Ocean Avenue trees could be transplanted elsewhere in the park. And 144 small, new trees will be planted along Ocean Avenue to make up for the tree removals.
Shamir-Baron and Vauss asked if the bike lane’s route could be modified a bit to leave the trees in place. The answer from Heilner was no.
The LPC has a say in what alterations can be made to Prospect Park because it is a city-designated scenic landmark.
In testimony during the hearing, Fort Greene activist Lucy Koteen said, “I came here to speak for the trees because they can’t speak for themselves.”
Surely smart designers “can figure out how to create change that works without cutting down large trees and removing the many environmental benefits they give us,” Koteen argued.
“New York City must stop pitting one benefit against another,” she said.
Koteen is a co-plaintiff in a suit against the Parks Department over its planned removal of trees in Fort Greene Park.
Repaving the Shirley Chisholm Monument’s plaza
The Prospect Park project presented to the LPC on Tuesday also proposes that cobblestones at the park’s Ocean Avenue entrance be replaced with beige concrete. This is the site where the Shirley Chisholm Monument, designed by artists Amanda Williams and Olalekan Jeyifous, will be installed under the She Built NYC public art program.
The placement of beige concrete on this corner would create an “undignified” entrance to a park that was “designed by master landscape designers,” Historic Districts Council Executive Director Simeon Bankoff said in testimony.
Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux designed the 585-acre park, which was built between 1866 and 1873. The pioneering landscape architects are best known for their design of Central Park.
The $8.2 million project also includes a revamp of Parkside Avenue sidewalks on Prospect Park’s perimeter. Project funding includes $6.2 million from DOT, $1 million from Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams and $1 million from City Councilmember Mathiew Eugene.
The LPC also approved a plan for refurbishing an outdoor adult fitness area in Prospect Park, near the bandshell.
Follow reporter Lore Croghan on Twitter.
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