July/August 1996, p.10-11
East New York: Gateway "Auto" Estates
Developers are proposing a giant new shopping center and suburban-style housing tract for an overgrown landfill in a remote section of the borough. Gateway Estates is expected to generate about 30,000 car trips a day, further congesting the Belt Parkway and local streets. Because the transit-inaccessible project has been pitched as "affordable housing," the city plans to subsidize it with valuable housing preservation funds. Meanwhile, thousands of transit-served East New York lots and apartment buildings remain abandoned for lack of investment. Borough President Howard Golden and Community Board 5 support the development, while T.A., the Sierra Club, and other environmental groups testified against it at a recent meeting of the City Planning Commission.
Residents of Windsor Terrace are pushing for the removal of the East 5th Street exit ramp from the Prospect Expressway because it floods the neighborhood with cars and trucks, Congressman Charles Schumer has joined the chorus of complaints, saying, "We need a major overhaul."
Soundview: Boro Prez Funds Greenway
Borough President Fernando Ferrer recently announced funding for a 1.5 mile bike and pedestrian path along the Bronx's southeastern waterfront through Soundview Park.
The path is an extension of the Bronx River Greenway, which will eventually stretch north past Woodlawn Cemetery.
Upper West Side: CB 7 Says Traffic Flow First!
In another example of vehicle movement winning priority over the safety of pedestrians and cyclists, CB 7 voted recently to ask DOT to remove a sidewalk extension at Columbus Ave and 94th Street. The board claims that the pedestrian safety devices reduce traffic flow and hamper the ability of large trucks to park on the street. That's just what the Upper West Side needs: more traffic flow.
For the second straight summer, Little Italy has gained a pedestrian space off-limits to cars and trucks. Every weekend through Columbus Day, the three blocks of Mulberry Street between Broome and Canal will be open to pedestrians only. Deputy Mayor Fran Reiter gave final approval to the improvement, which is expected to boost business at restaurants and cafes.
Citing security concerns, the Giuliani administration has banned cars from parts of Wall Street and Broad Street, opening more of Downtown to pedestrians. Although the main reason cited for keeping cars out was the threat of a terrorist attack on the Stock Exchange, the Department of City Planning and the Downtown Alliance had previously considered the change an enhancement to the area. The corner of Wall and Broad has long been a hive of pedestrian activity, with brokers taking a break from hectic trading and tourists seeking the heart of capitalism.
Union Square is at a critical point. Subway construction has created the opportunity to expand the heavily used park into the excess street space that surrounds it on all sides. Most dramatic is a proposal to pedestrianize most of Union Square West. T.A. is working with the Community Board and businesses on a consensus plan. T.A.'s Union Square coordinator, volunteer Carter Craft, is also looking for people to get postcards signed and letters written at a greenmarket table. Call 212-255-5815 to help.
Flushing: Main St. Construction Begins
In the March/April "Neighborhoods," we reported that Councilwoman Julia Harrison opposed the Transit Authority's plans to rebuild the Main Street Station and widen sidewalks on Roosevelt Avenue. In an enlightened move, the Transit Authority dismissed her concerns about car access to the major transit hub and is moving ahead with the project. Construction is scheduled for completion in May 1999.
Midland Beach: Midland Avenue Islands A Good Start
Last year, DOT S.I. Borough Commissioner Jack Larson responded to community concerns about pedestrian safety by installing islands at a school crossing on Midland Avenue. T.A. visited the site, and found that the islands did slow down traffic, from over 40 mph to about 30 mph. Further traffic-calming improvements, such as speed humps or raised crosswalks, are needed to bring speeds below 15 mph and make the crossing safe for children.
Workers are putting finishing touches on a half-mile pedestrian esplanade on the waterfront next to the St. George Ferry terminal. The city and the federal government paid the $6.4 million construction cost, and Staten Islanders hope the new park will attract tourists who ride the world-famous Staten Island Ferry, as well as Islanders looking for a car-free space.
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