The Fort Greene community is wrangling over the pros and cons — lost parking spots — of turning a segment of Gates Ave. into a pedestrian-only zone, after a three-month-old baby was killed on the one-way stretch in September.
Baby Apolline Mong-Guillemin was hit and killed by a car driving the wrong way up Gates Ave. off Fulton Street on Sept. 11.
Since then, the members of the The Vanderbilt Avenue Block Association have rallied around Apolline’s parents, starting a petition to make Gates Ave. between Vanderbilt Ave. and Fulton St. a car-free zone, and to rename the garden in the triangle at the intersection “Apolline’s Garden.”
One of the supporters of the car-free zone is local childcare center Discovery PitStop, and its founder Linique McCoy.
“The tragedy that occurred in September rattled our school community and further increased our awareness of the danger lurking at the intersection of Gates and Vanderbilt,” McCoy told BK Reader.
“We support a redesign that prioritizes pedestrian safety.”
More than 1,400 people have signed in support of the petition for a car-free zone in the last two months.
So, instead of waiting for the Department of Transport (DOT) to action the plan, the community pooled resources to submit a proposal for the changes to the roadway, with the DOT giving an initial nod of approval to the plan.
The plans were drawn up by urban planning firm Street Plans, StreetsBlog reported. However, the proposed changes would reportedly remove six to eight parking spots.
The potential removal of parking spots has sparked pushback from local drivers.
In a Town Hall held between community members, the DOT and Council Member Laurie A. Cumbo Monday, some Fort Greene drivers said they felt the plan threatened cars and parking in Brooklyn as a whole.
“I look at it as part of a larger plan to wipe out any street or any car in Brooklyn,” resident Joe Gonzalez reportedly said.
Cumbo also reportedly doubled down on the DOT on the issue of parking.
“When we create these public plazas, parking is lost. I guess the question is how we would realize additional parking when there is so much parking taken away,” she said. Cumbo did not respond to BK Reader‘s request for comment Wednesday.
The DOT said it would create more parking in the neighborhood to compensate.
Incoming council member Crystal Hudson did not respond to BK Reader‘s request for comment Wednesday.
Rahel Tadesse, founder of stylist company Style by Rahel — which is on Fulton Street across the road from the crash-site — acknowledged it was a hard decision.
She noted that parking in that area can be very difficult to find, but also that the roadway can sometimes be dangerous.
“It has to be balanced,” she told BK Reader. “If it works for the community that’s fine. If it does not, it’s gotta go back to how it was.”