City to turn parking lot into children’s playspace

Is Washington Park pedestrian zone ‘Fourth’ coming?
Fifth Avenue boosters want to turn the dead-end Fourth Street into a plaza that will link MS 51 to Washington Park across the street. Some of us still call it “J.J. Byrne Park,” but we’ve lost that battle.
Community Newspaper Group / Stephen Brown

The city has changed a parking lot into a paradise!

The Department of Transportation has yanked 20 coveted parking spots on a Fourth Street cul-de-sac alongside J.J. Byrne Park along retail-heavy Fifth Avenue to create a car-free zone where kids from MS 51 can play.

Under the plan, Fourth Street is closed to traffic between 7 am and 5 pm, and several designated teacher parking spaces have been relocated to Fifth Avenue. A barrier lets drivers know that the asphalt playground is car-free.

Cars are still able to park along the cul-de-sac on evenings and weekends.

Members of Community Board 6 affirmed support for the city move in a March 9 vote that asked the city to expand the project.

“I always lament the loss of parking, but this is between a school and a park — it just makes sense,” said member Nica Lalli.

But not everyone is singing the city’s praises.

“I don’t think it’s good for the neighborhood,” said David Ma, who rents apartments and space to businesses like the nearby Stone Park Café. Ma feels it’s already too hard to find viable spots on nearby parking-crunched streets.

“This affects everybody,” he said.

The city’s change on Fourth Street will likely be seen as another blow to motorists, who increasingly complain that roadway space is being taken for cyclists and park users.

Two weeks ago, Councilwoman Gale Brewer (D–Manhattan) called for a ban on cars in Prospect Park, saying, “New Yorkers should be able to go to the park without worrying about motor vehicle traffic.”

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