DOT backs down from no-parking plan outside Church Avenue synagogue
The city’s Department of Transportation has amended a dedicated bus-lane project on Church Avenue in Flatbush that would have caused problems for members of a neighborhood synagogue.
The curbside bus-lane plan eliminates parking on both sides of Church Avenue on Monday through Saturday, 7 a.m. through 7 p.m. It originally included the block between Marlborough Road and Buckingham Road where Beth Shalom v’Emeth Reform Temple, or B’ShERT, is located.
This meant parking spaces would be wiped out during Saturday worship services at the synagogue — though numerous members are elderly, live in other neighborhoods and drive to the temple. Some members have parking placards for disabled people and are unable to walk to subway or bus stops.
The historic temple at 83 Marlborough Road is the only Reform Judaism temple south of Prospect Park. It is home to a congregation that came into being as the result of the 2017 consolidation of two century-old synagogues. Many members of the combined congregation live in Mill Basin, Brighton Beach, Sheepshead Bay and other southern Brooklyn neighborhoods.
DOT officials informed City Council member Mathieu Eugene in August that they decided not to put the bus lane on either side of the Church Avenue block where B’ShERT stands so the parking spaces will remain available, one of the councilmember’s staffers told the Brooklyn Eagle.
DOT officials informed the councilmember’s office that they made their decision because of talks they held with temple leaders about their congregation’s transportation needs. Those talks took place following a contentious late-July public forum Councilmember Eugene convened about the bus lanes.
At the forum, temple members criticized the DOT for formulating its bus-lane plan based on a survey of Church Avenue merchants and their parking and truck loading issues. The survey did not include any questions about the temple.
DOT plans to begin implementing the Church Avenue bus-lane plan in October. The curbside bus lanes, which will be painted red, will run from East Seventh Street to Marlborough Road.
To help people doing quick errands, several spots on Church Avenue between East 18th and East 21st streets will have unmetered 15-minute parking spaces, maps posted on Community Board 14’s website indicate. There also will be new two-hour metered parking spaces on East 18th Street.
Ridership on Church Avenue buses is high — 45,000 per day — and speeds at peak travel times are a slow 4.25 miles per hour, compared with Brooklyn’s peak-time average of 6.7 miles per hour, according to DOT data.
Improving Church Avenue bus service is an important goal for the de Blasio Administration. It is one of the “priority projects” in the mayor’s Better Buses Action Plan.
B’ShERT’s Rabbi Heidi Hoover and congregation President Eric Platt were unavailable for comment on Monday because of Rosh Hashanah.
DOT’s press office did not respond by deadline to a request for comment about eliminating the bus lanes in front of B’ShERT.
Follow reporter Lore Croghan on Twitter.
Correction (October 1 at 1:30 p.m.): The original version of this article erroneously stated that the DOT would install curbside bus lanes between East 16th Street and Flatbush Avenue. It has been corrected, and we regret the error.
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