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.”

The Change.org petition for the road safety changes. Photo: Screenshot / Change.org

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 proposal to make part of Gates Avenue a pedestrian-only area. Graphic: Street Plans

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.

NYC Council Majority Leader Laurie A. Cumbo
NYC Council Majority Leader Laurie A. Cumbo. Photo: Nigel Roberts

“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.

Gateway Triangle at Gates Ave., Fulton St., and Vanderbilt Ave. Photo: Google

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.”

Jessy Edwards

Jessy Edwards is a writer based in Bushwick. Originally from New Zealand, she has written for the BBC, Rolling Stone, NBC New York, CNBC and her hometown newspaper, The Dominion Post, among others.

Join the Conversation

5

  1. This was such a sad and preventable death. It’s great to see these traffic calming measures being considered. I hope that the DoT will prioritize public safety here

  2. I support traffic calming but not car removal. They are getting a little crazy with the changes to Willoughby Ave. in Fort Greene. There is hardly any traffic on that road, they do not need take away more parking and place signs in the middle of the road that endanger both bikes and cars.

  3. My one year was struck in front of our building by a car that failed to stop at a Stop Sign. the driver hit me and my baby and drove off, leaving us injured in the street. Parking can’t be prioritized above babies lives. Please sign my petition and tell DOT and elected officials to prioritize lives over cars . https://p2a.co/itdppon. thanks

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