Street Seats and Bike Lanes Come to Brownsville and East New York

The Street Seat on Pitkin Avenue isn't even complete yet, but residents are already using it. Photo: Stephen Miller
The Street Seat on Pitkin Avenue isn’t complete yet, but residents are already using it. Photo: Stephen Miller

Livable streets improvements are rolling out for residents of Brownsville and East New York. Two new Street Seats have popped up just blocks from each other on Pitkin Avenue and Mother Gaston Boulevard. Meanwhile, DOT is installing the neighborhood’s latest round of bike lanes.

After a community-based planning process that began in 2011, the first phase of bike lanes in Brownsville and East New York was installed in 2013, followed by a second batch last year. The latest round focuses on east-west routes [PDF]: Pitkin Avenue should be finished soon, DOT said, and striping on Blake and Dumont avenues should begin in the next few weeks.

The neighborhood also got its first Street Seats, installations that convert a curbside parking space into seating and greenery maintained by a local organization or business. On Mother Gaston Boulevard near Belmont Avenue, the Brownsville Partnership is sponsoring a Street Seat in front of the MGB POPS local pop-up market.

Crews stripe crosswalks on Pitkin Avenue. The bike lane is up next. Photo: Stephen Miller
Crews stripe crosswalks on Pitkin Avenue. The bike lane is up next. Photo: Stephen Miller

A few blocks away, Sal & Paul Pizzeria is maintaining a Street Seat in front of its restaurant at 1686 Pitkin Avenue. Reactions so far have been positive, said Ugo Grassadonia, who owns the pizza shop. He said the idea for the Street Seat came from the Pitkin Avenue BID, which approached him about it.

“He was a logical choice,” said Pitkin Avenue BID executive director Daniel Murphy. Since the program began six years ago, Street Seats were designed individually, Murphy noted, but the Pitkin Avenue Street Seat is the first to be fabricated and installed by DOT using a standard design.

“We haven’t even finished it yet. We still have to put planters in. The furniture is temporary,” Murphy said. “We’re going to try and do a ribbon cutting soon.”

Even with the finishing touches missing, residents and shoppers were taking to the new seating area. “It’s relaxing,” said Marilyn Dejesus, who grew up in Brownsville and now lives in Woodhaven. She was in the neighborhood to visit her aunt when she joined a friend for a slice of pizza and settled into a couple chairs for a chat. “There should be more places like this on this side of town.”

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