City: Dorman Square is D.O.A.

The Department of Transportation wants to convert this patch of concrete at Avenue M, Elm Street, and E. 15th Street into a gravel pedestrian plaza with metal tables and chairs — but not all Midwood residents are cheering the plan.
Photo by Elizabeth Graham

The city’s plan for a pedestrian plaza on Elm Avenue in Midwood is officially dead, Department of Transportation said last week as they pulled the plug on a project that drew sharp opposition from many factions in the community.

Dorman Square, as the city wanted to name the plaza it was going to build on a small stretch between Avenue M and E. 15th Street, has been consigned to the dust bin of failed city projects, officials told Community Board 14, which was supposed to vote on the project last week.

The city’s plan called for Elm Avenue to be sealed off to traffic, and was repeatedly blasted by Midwood’s Orthodox Jewish residents who say the city never consulted the Hatzolah volunteer ambulance corps about its plans and scheduled a hearing about the plaza two days before Passover, making it difficult for observant residents to attend.

A few local merchants had signed onto the effort, believing a plaza with chairs and tables would have helped their business.

Many residents were overjoyed by the news that the plaza plan was gone for good.

“It was definitely not a good idea,” said Mike Pessah, a resident who argued that the plaza would attract vagrants and troublemakers. “When they’re doing simple construction to that area, kids would hang out on the concrete over there and play fight.”

The city’s plan ultimately fell apart when the Midwood Development Group, the non-profit that had agreed to clean the plaza on a routine basis, pulled out of the project after neighborhood residents voiced their concerns.

Local politicians, such as Councilman David Greenfield (D–Borough Park) and Assemblyman Dov Hikind (D–Borough Park), signed on to the push to defeat the plaza plan — and were pleased their hard work stymied the city.

“If enacted, the proposal would have had such a negative impact on the quality of life in our community,” Councilman Mike Nelson (D–Midwood) said.

Repeated calls to the Department of Transportation about the project were not returned.

Reach reporter Eli Rosenberg at erosenberg@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-2531. And follow him at twitter.com/emrosenberg.

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