SoBro gets the shaft!
The city’s exhaustive plan for the shore front over the next 10 years ignores southern Brooklyn, say community leaders whose recommendations to the strategy have been washed out to sea.
“The city uses the word comprehensive, but the plan is far from being comprehensive for our area,” said Alan Ditchek, president of the Manhattan Beach Neighborhood Association.
The proposal, called the Vision 2020 Comprehensive Waterfront Plan, hopes to improve access to the water in all five boroughs. After holding public hearings and workshops in each borough, the city released its draft on Sept. 7. The draft includes more than 40 provisions for the Upper Bay and its channels near the west side of the borough — the “other Brooklyn,” as it were — but it barely addresses the concerns that Community Board 15 posed to the city in March.
In fact, the waterfront from Sea Gate to Plumb Beach is only mentioned 10 times, using terms that some feel are extremely vague like “promote Coney Island aquarium” and “study land use and regulation to facilitate appropriate development.”
“The city has not given us enough and it has not done enough,” said CB15 Chairwoman Theresa Scavo.
CB15’s suggestions for Vision 2020 reads as a Cliffs Notes of solutions for longtime problems: the waters of Sheepshead Bay, which has been narrowed by erosion, need to be dredged because boats have been getting stuck in the sand; Plumb Beach’s sand-covered bike path needs to be cleaned up; the Belt Parkway needs a barrier to protect it from the harbor; sea walls along Gerritsen and Manhattan beaches need to be repaired to prevent flooding.
“We need long-term solutions for these problems and so far, the city has not given us any,” Scavo said.
The remaining Community Board suggestions deal with the area’s aesthetics. For instance, the board wants the city to extend the Emmons Avenue boardwalk, which now stretches from E. 15th to E. 27th streets, to Knapp Street. The board calls the proposed path “a visual corridor” that would allow pedestrians to get a better view of the water.
The city’s draft does allude to a couple of the board’s recommendations, including replenishing the sand to prevent further erosion at Plumb Beach and rebuilding its bike paths, but residents say that the city’s points of interest are inadequate.
“Just replenishing the sand and putting sand bags along Plumb Beach to protect the bike paths and the Belt Parkway is not enough,” Ditchek said. “They city needs to look at that area more carefully.”
The city claims that the Vision 2020 draft does not neglect Southern Brooklyn, saying that the main goals of the plan, which are to expand public access to the waterfront and build buffers between waters and adjacent roads, may be applied to specific South Brooklyn issues within the next several years.
“Because many of Community Board 15’s recommendations address issues that concern neighborhoods across the city, its recommendations will be addressed systematically and not just as isolated incidents,” said Jovanna Rizzo, spokeswoman for the Department of City Planning, which is putting the plan together. “The city will follow up with Community Board 15 to further discuss its recommendations.”
Scavo said she resubmitted the written recommendations and will continue to pressure the city to address more of South Brooklyn’s waterfront issues in the final Vision 2010 plan, which will be released in December.
CB15 isn’t the first Brooklyn group to complain about being left out of Vision 2010. Canarsie residents and lawmakers are also upset that the plan includes just one recommendation for their neighborhood: the rehabilitation of Canarsie Pier.
The next public hearing is Oct. 12 at New York University in Manhattan, a neighboring borough. The city will continue to consider ideas from all communities until Nov. 12. The full completed plan is scheduled to be released on Dec. 31, 2010.