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Backing hipsters, pols demand MTA run trains to Williamsburg big fest • Brooklyn Paper

Backing hipsters, pols demand MTA run trains to Williamsburg big fest

The MTA will welcome the summer by replacing the L train with shuttle buses overnight for the next five weeks.
Community Newspaper Group / Aaron Short

Music-loving hipsters hoping to hop on the subway and soak in some Har Mar Superstar at the Northside Festival in Williasburg this June are going to have to either hitchhike or take the bus because their beloved L train will be closed for repair.

But a group of Brooklyn pols wants to make it as easy as possible for them to rock on, and are demanding the Metropolitan Transportation Authority keep the trains running from June 15 to 17 so the more than 80,000 who descend on the coolest place in the world will be able to get there via the underground.

“It is very important that the MTA follow through on its commitment to community engagement and reschedule these shutdowns,” reads a letter sent to the authority and signed by Borough President Markowitz, state Senators Daniel Squadron (D–Brooklyn Heights) and Martin Dilan (D–Bushwick), Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (D–Greenpoint), Assemblyman Joseph Lentol (D–Greenpoint), and Councilman Stephen Levin (D–Greenpoint).

The pols said that the MTA was breaking an agreement it had made at a meeting last year to consult with community leaders before choosing weekends to shut down the L, as well as to keep the line, which runs from Manhattan to Canarsie, running during all three-day weekends.

But the MTA is scheduling service on the line during one of Williamsburg’s busiest weekends of the year, replacing the fast trains with slow-moving shuttle buses between Bedford Avenue and Canarsie, the Northside Festival, which will this year be spread out from June 13 to 20 and will include music, film and technology, typically draws upwards of 80,000 people to North Brooklyn, according to Nicole Conner, a spokeswoman for the festival.

Local businesses say Northside is Williamsburg’s biggest weekend and the MTA will be seriously harming them if customers will have to struggle to get there for three days during the festival.

“Why can’t they do this in August? That’s a tough time around here,” said Caitlin Dourmashkin, manager of the Northside Merchants Association. “Or it would have been better to do earlier in the spring.”

Squadron said he knows that maintenance is essential, but that it should be done on weekends that are not as crucial to the livelihood of so many local businesses.

“North Brooklyn small businesses depend on weekend visitors that come in on the L — especially on major weekends like the Northside Festival,” said Squadron. “That’s why it’s so important for the MTA to work with the community to help mitigate the impact of L train shutdowns.”

MTA spokesman Kevin Ortiz refused said his agency is drafting a response to the complaints.

The MTA typically increase services before and after events that draw a crowd, including Yankee baseball games in the Bronx and events at the new Barclays Center.

Of course, the MTA’s construction will have no effect on a the Danish “Northside” music festival interestingly taking place on the same days in Denmark across the pond. Still, there will be no mass-transit trains taking hipsters to that festival, which features Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Artic Monkeys, Fun, Modest Mouse, the Flaming Lips, and a host of other acts, despite the fact that its two stages are clearly located next to some form of rail transportation.

Reach reporter Danielle Furfaro at dfurfaro@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-2511. Follow her at twitter.com/DanielleFurfaro.

Last year, you could take the train to see Guided By Voices at the Northside Festival.
Photo by Aaron Short

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