Jim Brennan: “Objective Assessment” Must Precede Prospect Park Trial

044.jpgFollowing up on other car-free parks news, last week Assembly Member Jim Brennan joined the chairs of Brooklyn Community Boards 7 and 14 in calling for an Environmental Impact Statement before any trial program to remove car traffic from Prospect Park. In this tipster-submitted constituent letter, Brennan rationalizes his position.

Nothing says "fact-based public process" like "community board consideration."

Thanks for your note about Prospect Park. Last week I wrote the New York City Department of Transportation asking for a public process that would include the coummunity [sic] boards adjacent to Prospect Park in any decision involving eliminating cars from the Park. The boards include Community Board Six in Park Slope, Board 8 in Prospect Heights, Board Nine in Crown Heights, Board Seven in Windsor Terrace and Board 14 in Flatbush.

I also expressed the view that an environmental impact statement might be required because of traffic congestion and pollution concerns. I believe that a decision about elminating [sic] cars from the Park should be based on an objective assessment of the facts.

I have supported the previous change in vehicle use in the Park that have reduced vehicles to only two hours in the morning and evening rush hours. However, the New York City Deaprtment [sic] of Transportation also reduced Prospect Park Southwest from two lanes to one lane north- and southbound several years ago without consulting the Community Board.

Absent an emergency, it should be a matter of policy for any significant change in the use of the City’s streets and roads to allow for local community board consideration. Eliminating cars in the Park may be a good idea or a bad idea, but I want a fact-based public process to make such a decision.

Once again, thank you for writing.

Sincerely,

Assemblymember Jim Brennan
416 7th Ave.
Brooklyn, NY 11215
718-788-7221

  • Marty Barfowitz

    Though it ain’t saying much, Jim has been one of the brighter lights in the State Assembly. He’s done some good things in a mostly do-nothing body. Nevertheless, he was first elected to the legislature in 1984. He’s been there 24 years now. That’s long enough. It’s time for him to move along. The neighborhoods he represents have undergone massive changes since then. On this particular issue, Jim is way out of touch. Isn’t there even one single, viable candidate who could challenge Brennan in a Democratic primary? We need new energy in the State Assembly.

  • Larry Littlefield

    The good news is that I appear to have convinced most of those here about the reality of the EIS process. Its purpose is to provide a subject for lawsuits, to delay and increase the cost of anything new, and to provide employment for those who produce and review them, including those who would probably be better off doing something else.

    The scoping manual was supposed to eliminate these exercises in the trivial by providing a negative declaration to anything that wasn’t massive enough, in and of itself, to actually affect the environment. Those mentally locked in another era apparently didn’t get the memo.

    The best way to actually measure the environmental impact is a pilot program that allows real numbers (rather than made up models gamed one way or the other) to be produced. While that isn’t possible with something expensive like a huge building, it is with a traffic pattern.

  • mike

    “…The boards include Community Board Six in Park Slope”

    Huh, that’s funny, because Community Board Six is on record of being in favor of a trial ban.

  • Niccolo Machiavelli

    People who hold power in both the public and private sector, and Assemblyman Brennan is a holder of minor power despite having more intelligence than the average politico, have learned to manage “paralysis of analysis”. They will study something to death. In this case it has already been studied to death and that SEQRA provides a tool for prolonging this process, layering analysis on top of analysis like one of those Ukranian eggs, does not mean that the facts were long ago established. The burden of proof is on those who maintain that taking road space away from vehicles does not diminish VMT. It is up to the car bound Community Board politicians to prove that increasing commuter times, eliminating road space actually increases VMT. Not only is this counter-intuitive but it is the opposite of the well established principle of “induced demand”. All the cars passing through the Park are going somewhere. If the planners make it harder for them to go where they want to go, fewer of them will go. Study that all you want. Its up to the CB NIMBYs to prove that when you make it more difficult for them to drive, more of them will actually drive. They have to prove the essentially masochistic character of urban drivers.

  • Streetsman

    The reason the burden of proof would be on the city is because they would be making a change to an existing condition. Whether or not VMT would be effected is part of the analysis, but not the impetus behind the EIS.

    That said, it is clearly complete hogwash to call for the EIS of a temporary pilot program that is currently only a concept being advocated by a community group. Brennan should know better than that it is an obvious and hokey delay tactic. I seem to recall residents in Soho calling for an area-wide traffic study for the proposal of a pilot temporary closure of Prince Street on Sundays, as if A. temporary pilot programs should require that level of analysis, or B. that the hundreds of popular street closures that occur all over New York City every year (Thanksgiving Day Parade anyone?) aren’t proof enough that street closures would cause, at absolute worst, acceptable and manageable negative impacts during the pilot period.

    If a fact-based public process is truly what Jim Brennan wants, then he should be in support of the pilot program. What better facts to analyze than the publicly-displayed impacts of the pilot program in action?

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