Borough fall: D’town plaza’s bluestone is tripping hazard, pedestrians allege

Borough fall: D’town plaza’s bluestone is tripping hazard, pedestrians allege
Community Newspaper Group / Kate Briquelet

A stroll through the plaza in front of Borough Hall is no walk in the park — it’s more like a trip through a minefield, Downtown workers allege.

Angry pedestrians say the city must replace the broken bluestone sidewalks in front of Borough Hall with uglier, cheaper asphalt — calling for function over fashion before another person falls and breaks a bone.

“This is deplorable!” said Susan Detrich, who often traverses the pock-marked plaza, which government workers sometimes use for parking. “If you don’t glue your eyes to the ground, you’ll step into a hole. Forget about how it looks — let’s patch it up.”

The broken slate surrounding the People’s House in Columbus Park has been a perilous crossing for years, but neither the Borough President nor the Parks Department has snagged the funds for a full reconstruction for the plaza bounded by Joralemon, Court, Johnson and Adams streets and Cadman Plaza West.

Instead, they’re filling gaping holes with orange traffic cones.

“People are always tripping over here,” said Jason Alfred, who works near Adams Street. “They’re scared for their lives.”

Borough President Markowitz said that he won’t consider another material to replace the bluestone, saying that historic character of Brooklyn’s City Hall must be maintained.

“I wish the city could give my office the budget so we can be responsible for the upkeep,” he said. “But in the meantime, we will strongly urge [the city] to make the necessary repairs.”

Still, no slapdash repair jobs have been enough to protect the two-inch bluestone — which can run up to $15 a square foot — against heavy foot traffic, winter wear, and government vehicles that park on the crumbling walkways.

Two years ago, a 71-year-old woman fell and landed in the hospital for a fractured hip, prompting the city to fill some holes with tinted cement.

Some community officials say that the plaza is beyond temporary repairs — especially since it last underwent a major renovation about 15 years ago.

“If the plaza is going to withstand vehicular use, we need a concrete that is tinted to look like bluestone,” said Rob Perris, district manager of Community Board 2. “That could be a good compromise when you don’t think bluestone is the right answer.”

Detrich said that she’s written to the Borough President since 2010 to pressure him to finally replace the splintered stone.

“A private homeowner would have gotten so many violations for this,” she said. “Yet this is our administration building and our visitor’s center and no one will fix it.”

Downtown dwellers have been griping about Borough Hall’s broken bluestone for years. Now residents are calling for it to be paved over with an uglier alternative — lest someone trip and break a hip!
Community Newspaper Group / Kate Briquelet