This Is What Harlem Plaza Supporters Will Be Up Against at CB 10 Tonight

Anonymously sent by someone who had the personal email addresses of all CB 10 members.
Someone anonymously sent this to the personal email addresses of all CB 10 members.

Neighbors have fought for years to get Manhattan Community Board 10 to support creating a small plaza by Frederick Douglass Boulevard and 150th Street. Tonight that proposal is up for a vote at a general board meeting of CB 10 for the first time.

Bradhurst Plaza would convert a short one-way “slip lane” segment of Macombs Place, which runs diagonally across the Harlem grid, into pedestrian space, connecting a small triangle-shaped patch of trees to the sidewalk in front of the Dunbar Apartments building.

Today, northbound drivers on their way to the Macombs Dam Bridge make a quick right turn from Frederick Douglass. With a plaza, pedestrians would no longer have to worry about getting hit by drivers taking fast turns. Drivers going to Macombs Place would have to turn from 150th Street instead.

In addition to improving the pedestrian environment, the plaza would provide space for a new farmers market. Local businesses and community groups, led by the Harlem Community Development Corporation, have signed on to maintain the plaza.

Someone really, really doesn't want this to happen. Image: DOT
Someone really, really doesn’t want this to happen. Image: DOT

And yet, the proposal has languished at the CB 10 transportation committee in the face of vociferous opposition from members of the Dunbar Residents Association, local block associations, and committee member Barbara Nelson. A vote to support the plaza deadlocked at the committee in January.

In June, the issue was bumped up to the CB 10 executive committee, which voted to put it on the agenda for the September general board meeting.

Now, opponents of the plan are mobilizing. An anonymous email sent to CB 10 members yesterday urges them to vote against the plaza. Opponents lob the usual arguments against the plan, including questioning DOT safety data, proposing another location for the farmers market, and claiming the plaza will impede emergency vehicles [PDF].

Harlem CB 10 has a long record of opposing road diets, bus lanes, and plazas. Will fear of changing streets win out again, or will plaza supports muster a supportive vote? The meeting starts at 6 p.m. at the Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Harlem State Office Building, 163 West 125th Street, eighth floor [PDF].

  • Mark Walker

    “CLOSED” to cars means open to pedestrians. Once again, the electeds who appoint these community board members need to start taking out the garbage.

  • Emmily_Litella

    I fervently pray that video of this event be posted. The city at large needs to see first hand the cogent, rational arguments presented in the speakers’ own words. I want to see the body language and hear the actual intonation of all speakers.

  • God I hate Community Boards.

  • ohhleary

    What kind of monsters value a 50-foot strip of pavement over additional open space for an entire neighborhood? I cannot even see from the perspective of people who oppose these types of improvements, because their very premise is not only entirely false, but also inhumane.

  • Jeff

    I’m guessing the kind of monster who currently stores his or her personal property on that 50-foot strip of pavement?

  • qrt145

    This plaza lies at the intersection of four census tracts with a total population of about 15,000. But hey, what are the interests of a few thousand people who regularly need to cross this street safely and might make better use of it on foot against the interests of the ten people or so who store their cars on this block?

  • After the city closes this little street to cars they can close all the other streets in NYC.

    Get rid of the cars now, before they get rid of us.

  • BBnet3000

    The street won’t be closed, you just won’t be allowed to drive/park a car on it. It’s actually open to a lot more uses than before.

  • c2check

    FOREVER!

    Because we know streets NEVER change!

  • Mark Walker

    Just say the words “car-free NYC” and drivers run from the room screaming. But it might happen in stages. First, defend car-free Times Square from the mayor and police commissioner. Second, extend it: car-free 42nd Street with tram or BRT, car-free Broadway top to bottom with tram or BRT. Third, car-free dates: car-free Manhattan once a year, more often in a pilot project, then every weekend, then permanently, with other parts of the city following. I hope I live to see the first few stages. Maybe someday our descendants will look back on the tyranny of cars and laugh at the crazy people who put up with it.

  • FLYINGCHOPSTIK

    Does the DOT really need the approval of community boards anyway? I thought that they were just consulted for feedback?

  • Can someone ELI5 how community boards work?

  • Miles Bader

    It’s like they imagine they can make their case through sheer volume… ><

  • WalkingNPR

    Nice, fearmongering inclusion of the Emergency Lane in the image. Because we all know anytime you take space away from cars it leads to catastrophic delays in emergency response!

    Oh wait… http://brooklynspoke.com/2013/01/03/bike-lanes-up-emergency-response-time-down/

  • Mike

    Anybody know how this turned out?

  • Rabi
  • Mike

    Ugh. Well, thanks for the update.

  • mrsman

    This would be a good candidate for closure. The city should close 5-way and 6-way intersections as much as possible and turn them into 4-way corners. If they did it with Broadway, they can do it with Macomb Place. And it’s a win-win since it improves car traffic by simplifying the intersections.

  • jimmyd

    That was one of the proposed redesigns the group objected to, not what’s there now. The emergency lane wasn’t fearmongering, it was to placate those who would.

    http://www.streetsblog.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/Screen-shot-2014-05-16-at-1.21.27-PM.png

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