MTA president to address rumored closing of Clark Street station
The MTA is finally breaking its silence about the potential upcoming closure of the Clark Street subway station in Brooklyn Heights.
After four months of rumors, New York City Transit President Andy Byford will be bringing the public up to date at a town hall at St. Francis College on Monday, Sept. 16 from 6-8 p.m.
Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon’s office announced the meeting, which arose after officials including Simon, U.S. Rep. Nydia Velázquez, State Sen. Brian Kavanagh, City Councilmember Stephen Levin and Borough President Eric Adams had a briefing with the MTA.
“We were pretty clear we wanted the community to be fully informed,” Simon told the Brooklyn Eagle. “Andy Byford offered to be there, discuss the renovations and field questions.”
Since April, rumors have swirled about a yearlong closure to fix the station’s decrepit elevators. MTA refused to answer questions, however, about whether a full closure of the station was planned or whether it would entail a partial closure. The Clark Street subway station serves the 2 and 3 lines.
Several of the businesses operating out of the arcade at the St. George Tower, at the corner of Henry and Clark streets, said a prolonged closure would force them out of business.
“They didn’t tell us anything,” Fernando Castano, who has worked for Brooklyn Heights Shoe Master for more than 18 years, told the Eagle in April. Without foot traffic, Castano said he won’t be able to make his rent.
Andrew Sabba, owner and operator of Cafécito To Go, said that 80 percent of his business comes from commuters. “Without the train, it’s pretty much done.”
Brooklyn Heights resident Marty Feuerman told the Eagle that he heard the rumor from a station clerk, who told him that “the plan is to shut down the station 24/7 from around January 2020 to January 2021.”
Neighborhood issues call to action
After MTA remained mum despite requests for information from numerous stakeholders, the Brooklyn Heights Association in May sent a “Call to Action” to its members, asking them to demand that the Clark Street subway station remain open while the station’s elevators are being replaced.
“While there is no doubt that the station and the community would benefit from new elevators, a complete closure would have a severe impact on the small business which operate within the station and along Clark and Henry Street, in addition to causing undue hardship for seniors and others who may be less mobile,” a BHA spokesperson told the Eagle.
RFP coming soon
“Like a lot of things, the job is more complicated than it might appear,” Simon said. “How the elevators work or don’t work, the physical challenges of the space. And there’s only one way in or out.”
There are three elevators in operation at the station, one of the deepest in the subway system. A 10-story flight of stairs at Clark Street station is used only in emergencies.
“We wanted MTA to hear from the community before the RFP [Request for Proposals] comes out. We also wanted the community to hear from MTA before the RFP,” Simon said. “If the RFP is written a certain way, it will guide the responses.”
The elevator work “will have all kinds of impacts” on local businesses, she added. “On the other hand, the elevator outages are only going to get worse.”
MTA told the BHA in May that the agency would issue an RFP — the first step in the bidding process for contractors — concerning the elevators in July, award a contract later this summer and start the project early next year. No RFP has been issued yet.
The city’s amended 2019 budget shows the replacement of two hydraulic elevators at Clark Street at the cost of $15.1 million.
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