City reinstates free street parking after community backlash, vows to remove parking elsewhere

Gone: The city’s Department of Transportation took down the signage for its residential loading zones on Greene Avenue in Clinton Hill on Aug. 14 after backlash from locals due to the loss of free on-street parking.
Photo by Kevin Duggan

What a load off!

The city quietly removed signs forbidding parking on residential blocks in Clinton Hill and Prospect Heights on Wednesday in response to intense community backlash — but officials vowed to continue their push to remove parking spots throughout the borough, according to a spokeswoman for the Department of Transportation.

“We are adjusting some program locations based on community feedback,” said Lolita Avila. “The program will remain in Brooklyn and citywide.”

The city eliminated parking spots on Clinton Hill’s Greene Avenue and Prospect Heights’s Bergen Street last month to make way for new residential loading zones as part of a citywide pilot program, but workers showed up Aug. 14 to remove the short-lived no-parking signs after locals threw a fit, saying the city failed to provide ample notice of the new loading zones, which many residents didn’t want in the first place.

“It was almost like a sneak attack,” said Ralph, a Greene Avenue resident, who declined to share his last name. “They could not have thought that this would go by unnoticed.”

One lifelong Greene Street resident even threatened to move out of her gorgeous brownstone if the city didn’t roll back the parking change.

“I said to my husband, ‘we got to get the hell out of here,’” said Linda Vital. “I feel much better now, believe you me.”

But just because the transit agency’s scheme kicked up too much dust on Greene Avenue and Bergen Street doesn’t mean officials won’t seek to impose their residential loading zones on other neighborhoods, according to Alvila, who noted that a third test location for the loading zone program on Greenpoint’s Manhattan Avenue will remain in place.

Officials are now deciding where to relocate the abandoned Clinton Hill and Prospect Heights loading zones, according to Aliva, who promised the agency would focus more on public outreach in the future.

“We are still figuring out the locations,” she said. “Also, yes, there will be signs and flyers about the program.”

However, the spokeswoman would not comment on whether the agency would ax future loading zones in response to criticism.

Former District Leader Renee Collymore — who helped Clinton Hill residents organize in response to the parking debacle — was triumphant after city transit officials threw in the towel and removed the Greene Avenue no-parking signs, saying other neighborhoods should follow their lead in opposing future loading-zone schemes.

“They have to get out there and stand guard over their neighborhoods,” said Collymore. “It would behoove them to take a stand and fight like never before. It can be done.”

But one resident said the whole hubbub was distracting the agency from doing what it’s supposed to do — making the city a safer place to live.

“It’s much ado about nothing. I just want to be able to have safe streets. DOT is not some malignant force that’s trying to hurt things, they’re just trying to make it so that streets are safer,” said Sam, who only provided his first name. “Parking is a privilege, not a right.”

Reach reporter Kevin Duggan at (718) 260–2511 or by e-mail at kduggan@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter @kduggan16.

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