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Is Washington Park pedestrian zone ‘Fourth’ coming?

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An influential Park Slope restaurant owner is pushing for a plaza a dead-end portion of Fourth Street that would eliminate around 30 parking spaces, setting the stage for yet another showdown between pedestrians and drivers.

Irene Lo Re, the executive director of the Fifth Avenue Business Improvement District and the owner of Aunt Suzie’s restaurant, said that barring cars from Fourth Street west of Fifth Avenue would create a much-needed play area to replace portions of Washington Park during renovations that will last for at least one year.

“It’s fabulous real estate that is just being used as parking,” said Lo Re. “It can be turned over to the community for leisure space.”

Lo Re knows she has a fight on her hands, as any loss of parking in Park Slope inevitably leads to cries of driver prejudice. The stretch of Fourth Street serves as parking for teachers during school hours at MS 51, which faces the park.

“We’re not going to be able to park anywhere,” said one teacher who did not give her name because the Department of Education apparently punishes teachers who speak to reporters.

Another teacher shook his head in dismay, grousing that the proposal was made simply to satisfy stroller pushers.

“One thing I’ve learned about the Park Slope parents: they’re always right. Just ask them!” The teacher then stormed off, saying he could not give his name either.

Some locals picking up their kids also want the cul de sac to remain a regular public street.

“This street is the only way we can pick up our kids,” said Herman Moreno, who was parked in front of MS 51. “There’s no parking on Fifth Avenue, and if you double park, you’re in the bike lane. They should just let us come in, make our little U-turn, then leave.”

Lo Re said she was open to implementing a mixed use-style plaza that would allow parking for teachers during school time, though that would eliminate the possibility of play equipment for kids.

“Sometimes you have to make a hard choice,” said Lo Re. “Is it best for someone’s convenience, or should the neighborhood have more park space?”

Kim Maier, the executive director of the Old Stone House, which is in Washington Park, said that the plaza concept was still in the preliminary stage, but that it would be a big improvement.

“It would be a safer area to connect the school to park — I’ve seen a lot of near-misses when drivers think they’ve found a spot and almost hit kids,” Maier said.

A spokesman with the Department of Transportation said that no firm plans were in place, but that a “play street” had been considered while Washington Park is under construction. The spokesman added that the plaza could be implemented in the near future.

— with Joe Anuta

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Reasonable discourse

J from Brooklyn says:
Who are you and what did you do with the real Irone Lo Re? You know, the one who is anti every pedestrian and cycling friendly initiative ever to be proposed within 20 miles of Park Slope? Hmm... Something must not be right here.
Oct. 19, 2010, 9:56 am
John from Kensington says:
Sounds like a great idea, this area is well-served by mass transit options.
Oct. 19, 2010, 12:22 pm
Any Mouse from Any Where says:
Lo Re hates bike lanes and parking meters. That's why no self-respecting cyclist would be caught dead eating ehr slop. The idea on 4th Street caem from TA years ago. Guess she's just making sure she can market her restaurant in what will become the area's newest atrtaction.
Oct. 19, 2010, 1:06 pm
MyrtleGuy from North Slope says:
I hear the parking spaces aren't being eliminated, they're being relocated. Personally, I think if a car owner can store his/her property on the street, then I should be able to store my long skateboards there too.
Oct. 19, 2010, 4:20 pm
Mike from Ft Greene says:
Plaza sounds a lot better than dead-end parking. Nobody should be picking their kids up by car at a neighborhood elementary school! The kids should be walking or biking to school, with or without their parents. Driving within the neighborhood to pick up or drop off kids is insane.
Oct. 19, 2010, 4:55 pm
bklyn'er from park slope says:
said Lo Re. “Is it best for someone’s convenience, or should the neighborhood have more park space?”

more park space?! Is prospect park not enough for you people? lol
Oct. 19, 2010, 5:34 pm
Rick from Park Slope says:
The school has frontage along 5th Street and along 5th Avenue as well. No reason they should not be able to accommodate teacher parking and pick-ups. Anyway if more of our streets were designed a safe and pleasant as this proposal maybe kids wouldn't need to be chauffeured around all the time
Oct. 20, 2010, 11:56 am
PaulC from The slope says:
Unless these teachers live in the neighborhood, I don't care what they think or want to hear from them. While I like the idea I wonder the motives of Lo Re. Last I check she has been against most ped and bike improvements.
Oct. 20, 2010, 12:11 pm
dave from Brooklyn says:
BRILLIANT idea - at least while the construction is ongoing it would make an excellent playground. And if the teachers dont like losing their parking - tough - take the subway like everyone else.
Oct. 20, 2010, 12:40 pm
Local from Pk Slope says:
GREAT IDEA! DO It!

Why should our streets be a parking lot for out of towners?
Oct. 22, 2010, 12:53 pm
Eric says:
This is the same Irene Lo Re who wanted a bike lane removed because it eliminated parking spaces?
http://www.nypost.com/p/news/local/brooklyn/park_slope_merchants_blast_city_YWQAT0NgJYyfoUtZipmXJK
Oct. 25, 2010, 12:03 pm

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