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City shoots down gardeners’ hopes for sound wall • Brooklyn Paper

City shoots down gardeners’ hopes for sound wall

Highway blues: Narrows Botanical Gardens trustees Greg Ahl and Jimmy Johnson argue that a six- to seven-foot soundwall is necessary to shelter the park from the racket and racketeers coming off the Belt Parkway — but residents fear it could eclipse the view of the river.
Photo by Elizabeth Graham

The city has swatted down the hopes of green-thumbed Bay Ridgites who want a sound wall built along their beloved Narrows Botanical Gardens in Shore Road Park.

The Department of Transportation said it would not build a seven-foot barrier gardeners say would protect the greenspace from plant pluckers as well as muffle the constant droning of cars passing on the nearby Belt Parkway.

“It cannot be included in the construction,” city officials said, adding that the Department of Transportation only builds noise barriers when realigning highways and widening thruways.

Gardeners were hoping that the city would be able to throw up a sound wall along the lip of the Belt Parkway between 69th Street and McKay Place as it refurbishes a pedestrian bridge at 69th Street.

Gardeners were crushed by the city’s response, but vowed to scale the insurmountable obstacles their plan faces.

“Our idea has a lot of good points to it,” said CB10 member and Narrows gardener Greg Ahl.

Landscape designer Jimmy Johnson — who helped build the Shore Road Park oasis of rare flowers and shrubs in 1995 — said the barrier is absolutely necessary to stop plant bandits who pull over on the Belt Parkway and rip up thousands of dollars in precious perennials.

“The community garden needs a security system,” said Johnson, who explained that the Narrows board had already installed motion detectors around the garden’s perimeter to ward off thieves. “With all the work we do, and all the disruption we have to deal with, it’d be nice to have something protecting the area.”

Critics of the proposed partition argued that a sound wall would block views of the harbor, but Johnson dismissed such claims, arguing that the view would only be lost is on the walkway closest to the fence — where there isn’t much to see, he claimed.

“The only view that would be missing would be cars going by on the highway,” Johnson said.

Ahl said he and his fellow gardeners would lobby state Sen. Marty Golden (R–Bay Ridge) and Councilman Vincent Gentile (D–Bay Ridge) to get the sound wall built, even though the city opposes the plan.

“Sooner or later, someone’s going to help us,” Ahl said.

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