The borough’s top boss isn’t the only one with high hopes for Fourth Avenue, a thoroughfare slated to receive intense scrutiny from those who believe its best days could be in front of it.
The Park Slope Civic Council will devote its annual forum to the future of the roadway, envisioned by Borough President Marty Markowitz to one day boast a grandeur akin to Manhattan’s Park Avenue.
Michael Cairl, the chair of the civic’s livable streets committee, said the forum is entirely independent of the borough president’s comments at the State of the Borough address last week, where the beep said he envisions a transformation of the avenue from “Atlantic Avenue to the Atlantic Ocean” into a magnificent “Brooklyn boulevard.”
“We like the fact that the avenue is changing, but the avenue has challenges in traffic and challenges in development, and we want to get the community at the table to see what they think,” Cairl said.
The avenue has seen a flurry of construction activity since 2003 when the Park Slope rezoning was passed,protecting lower rise side streets — but allowing buildings as tall as 120 feet to rise along Fourth. And while the building boom has slowed for now, the Atlantic Yards project is expected put renewed development and traffic pressures on the avenue, making focused attention there critical, Cairl noted.
The avenue, once a great place to find an auto repair shop, is today home to a growing residential population. “It is becoming a street where people live, so we want to take the temperature of the community and see how Fourth Avenue can become a more livable street,” said Cairl.
But as it stands, many of the newer buildings offer little to the streetscape, save for garage ventilators and garage entrances, Cairl said. “It creates a deadening effect on the street,” he said.
The forum will take a holistic approach to the future of the avenue, and would not limit its scope to Park Slope, but include Bay Ridge and Sunset Park as well. Issues ranging from traffic, transportation, business, land use, sustainability and development are expected to be discussed. And the forum isn’t just a one shot deal. “We see this as a continuing community conversation,” Cairl said.
Markowitz, according to spokesperson Mark Zustovich, sees a revamped avenue to include decorative green medians such as those on Upper Park Avenue and Boerum Place, excellent transit, broad pedestrian walkways, improved vehicular traffic flow, street furniture, plazas, vendors and a livelier street atmosphere.
The beep has asked New York University’s urban planning graduate students to develop a community-based plan for an initial scope of the reconstruction, and Cairl said he planned to invite the same students to attend the upcoming forum.
The forum, called “The Future of Fourth Avenue” will be held on March 4 at St. Thomas Aquinas Church at Fourth Avenue and Ninth Street, from 7-9 p.m.