Greenpoint Gets a Preview of Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway on West Street

A preliminary rendering of the two-way bikeway and planted buffer slated for West Street in Greenpoint. Image: DDC

NYC DOT and consultants for the Department of Design and Construction gave Greenpoint residents a glimpse of preliminary designs for the West Street segment of the Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway Wednesday night at a full meeting of Brooklyn Community Board 1. The two-way bikeway proposed for West Street is the first of 23 capital projects that will eventually comprise the finished, 14-mile greenway.

While CB 1 voted in 2008 to support a similar redesign of Kent Avenue (a preliminary segment in the greenway), the current board seems to have regressed since then, and residents who support the project shouldn’t take anything for granted. At Wednesday’s meeting, the fundamental premise of establishing a two-way bike lane on the street received some support from the audience, but also a hostile response from the transportation committee chair.

For motor traffic, the plan would convert the length of West Street, currently two-way, to one-way northbound. Approximately 80 parking spaces on the west side of the street would be replaced with a two-way bike lane, separated from motor vehicle traffic by a mountable curb.

A mountable curb is not what Milton Puryear of the Brooklyn Greenway Initiative would have preferred for West Street. “It’s not ideal,” he said, noting that the he often encounters parked cars on the Sands Street bike path, which has a mountable curb. While the proposed design will be open to similar incursions, Puryear said, it will be “way better than the way it is.”

A four-foot painted buffer will extend beyond the mountable curb, and in the center of the roadway auto and truck traffic will have a wide, 17-foot travel lane.

The project would maintain 15-foot wide sidewalks on each side of the street, adding a planted buffer between the west sidewalk and the bike lane. In the current design, the buffer would treat stormwater runoff from the sidewalk but not the roadway. The Brooklyn Greenway Initiative’s stormwater study for West Street outlined a more robust plan than was presented on Wednesday, though Linda Reardon of the RBA Group, a DDC consultant, said that the stormwater plan for the street is subject to change.

Karen Nieves, a transportation committee member and employee of North Brooklyn industry group EWVIDCO, said that she would like to see businesses more thoroughly consulted as the design progresses. “Some businesses think this will kill them and they’ll have to move,” she said. Reardon assured her that RBA had mapped truck turns from driveways along West Street and that the design would not hinder commercial trucks.

The greenway project in North Brooklyn used to have a champion in the CB 1 transportation committee chair: Teresa Toro helped lead a lengthy public process for the Kent Avenue segment that resolved points of contention. But that no longer seems to be the case with the current transportation committee chair, Wilfredo Florentino, who issued the most hostile words of the night. Florentino said that his committee had “gotten a lot of comments from the community in opposition to the plan.” He asked Wright if the city would consider abandoning the project entirely in the face of opposition. “This plan is moving forward, regardless of the community’s position?” Florentino asked.

“That’s absolutely not what I said,” Wright replied. “DOT and DDC will try to work with the community if they have issues.” Florentino did not seem satisfied, but other locals at the meeting were more interested in hashing out the details of the project than standing in the way.

Barbara Vetell of the Greenpoint West Street Block Association said that she initially opposed the project because she wanted the funds to be spent on other things. But after seeing that the money cannot be diverted, she said, “I’m going to support it.” Vetell said that she wants to ensure that DDC works with community members and keeps its promises.

One concern for her is the wider travel lane for cars and trucks. “It’s going to turn into a speedway,” she said. “They really need to slow that traffic down.”

  • Streetsman

    Making sure that the truck fleets of the existing businesses there can make the turns they need to and that the new street design can support the existing traffic volumes should of course be paramount. But beyond that, the notion of abandoning entirely this funded portion of a 14-mile bike route project because of the opposition of some heavy truck-using businesses in an area that was re-zoned dense residential should not even be entertained.

  • Community Board watcher

    This has echoes of the East Harlem bike lanes saga.  An extensive public process which involved all members of the community board for months finally comes up for general discussion and — wouldn’t you know it — a few community board members with connections to local businesses make last-minute hysterical claims that the bike lane is being jammed down their throats and that it will put them on the road to bankruptcy.  At least no one is crying asthma this time.

    We all know what happens next.  Further hearings, more forums, letter writing campaigns, press articles flaming a bike v. car war…and then it will happen anyway.  So what say we cut out all the drama in the middle and just approve this already, okay?

    And here’s one challenge for advocates: Please ask Nieves to compile a list of businesses that were forced to close as a result of these new street designs and bike lanes that are now all over the city.  As a CB member and representative of her entire community she should be required to support any claims she makes.  So call her bluff.  Lord knows DNAinfo isn’t going to do it.

  • MFS

    Reiterating my comment from the news article post-
    Karen
    has been a big supporter of bike lanes and bike share as Transportation
    Chair.  She is right to make sure that the lanes work with the
    industrial businesses that border the greenway build out- she was
    instrumental in helping find a solution that worked for all on Kent when
    they made Kent one-way.  Don’t jump to conclusions so quickly from a
    single article!

    Luckily, there are almost no driveways or loading docks onto West St
    and they are almost exclusively on the non-greenway side of the street.

  • MFS

    Also, if Barbara Vitell is in favor of the project, that should speak volumes for the actual level of community support.

  • Rolf Carle

    I hope this Blog’s portrayal of transportation Chair Wilfredo Florentino as hostile towards DOT is an exaggeration because I know personally CB1 EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE Chair, Chris Olechowski does not approve of this emotion. I also hope Wilfredo is aware of the overwelming public support for the Greenway project, if not perhaps a demonstration of it could be shown at the the upcoming Transportation Town Hall Meeting on Monday Where our elected represenative will be gathered:https://www.facebook.com/?ref=tn_tnmn#!/photo.php?fbid=10151264689416473&set=o.210293679013484&type=1&theater

  • Teresa

    Important for everyone to keep showing support for the greenway. Here’s one opportunity:http://www.streetsblog.org/2012/11/15/greenpoint-transportation-traffic-safety-town-hall/

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