Pedestrians Shoved Aside as Brooklyn Judges Cling to Plaza Parking

Court personnel have again appropriated downtown Brooklyn parkland for their own private cars.

The saga of the Brooklyn judges who just can’t stand to part with their parking spots inside Columbus Park turned into a case of whack-a-mole last week. First, the judges finally agreed to stop parking in a pedestrian walkway, backing down from threats to sue the city in order to preserve that privilege. Under the compromise, however, a much bigger swath of the park has been turned over to the judges’ parked vehicles, a supposedly temporary giveback while a new permanent configuration is implemented.

Borough blog McBrooklyn posted photos of how the arrangement squeezes out pedestrians, and the Brooklyn Eagle picked up the story:

Many pedestrians appeared to assume that the blockaded park was just a
one-day disruption, due, perhaps to a water main break or a bomb scare.
When the actual purpose was explained to one man, however, he was
incredulous: "No, you’re joking, right?" he said.

"I’m really pissed off," said a woman who works at City Tech (New York
City College of Technology) on Jay Street. "I don’t think that they
should take the park. I hope it’s temporary — and I hope they
discontinue it."

The Parks Department approved the new arrangement despite the fact that court personnel already have access to a courthouse garage at 330 Jay Street and 150 placards for free use of on-street spots. "They have all these spots on the street, they can go to 330 Jay, and they’re just taking advantage," says Irene Janner of the Brooklyn Heights Association. "We’re not happy with their decision to just come in and take up half the park."

Administrative Judge Abraham Gerges says the blockade will last one or
two months. But prior "temporary" measures have left pedestrians out in
the cold for far longer. In fact, judges were first allowed to store
cars in the Columbus Park pedestrian walkway while the city constructed the courthouse at 330 Jay Street — including a garage for court
employees — in 1999. When the garage was completed, some court personnel refused to use it and insisted on keeping their newly acquired parking perk.

"We have very little confidence in their willingness to uphold this
arrangement," says Wiley Norvell of Transportation Alternatives. "They’ve broken faith before
with the community."

Norvell criticized the Parks Department for acceding to the judges’ demands. "Their job isn’t to find parking spaces," he said. "It’s inconceivable that at every turn, the convenient parking of the judiciary takes precedence over public space."

Photo: McBrooklyn

  • Oi Judge! Piss off!!

  • JF

    This is clearly the judges’ (and their friends in the Parks Department’s) way of saying “fuck you” to T.A. and pedestrians in general. If you take away space for them to park, they’ll just take more somewhere else! What a bunch of elitist jerks, these judges.

  • Streetsman

    We really need the Parks Department to take a hard line on keeping cars out of parks. No cars in parks, period. They should not be parking lots for judges at Borough Hall, they should not be rush hour commuter lanes in Central and Prospect Parks, they should not be cross-town connectors in Fresh Kills Park on Staten Island. The Parks Department should not be in the business of having to accommodate through traffic and parking. It is not one of their Charter responsibilities. It is not an appropriate use of park land.

  • nobody

    Who are these judges? What are their names? I think some shame is in order.

  • Good point, Nobody. Are any of these judges up for re-election this year or next year? Given the way judge elections are typically conducted, I doubt that any of them are contested, but if Streetsblog readers threw their weight behind a particular challenger, we might be able to go against the machine.

  • Your point is admirable, but it’s not just a few judges, it’s all of them. This issue has annoyed me for over 30 years. Why are judges “privileged” that they should be guaranteed a free parking space to enable them to drive to work in congested areas, while the rest of us are delegated to use mass transit?

    The same is true with Police and Fire vehicles. Go to any police precinct and the streets around it are always filled with illegally parked police vehicles, mostly private cars owned by police personnel and of course they are never ticketed. They seem to have the right to break the law.

    Even if you get a challenger to win, he’ll just bring his car to work too.


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