As it now exists, the northern end of Coney Island Avenue is a disjointed assemblage of businesses.
Auto repair shops predominate along portions of the strip, which also has restaurants, food stores, medical offices and a miscellany of other shops, jumbled along the thoroughfare.
But, randomness may give way to a new sense of orderliness if one local group has its way.
Utilizing a $25,000 grant from the city’s Department of Small Business Services, the Church Avenue Business Improvement District, working with the Pratt Center for Community Development, has kicked off a study of the thoroughfare, between the park and Cortelyou Road.
The study is “stakeholder-driven,” said Paula Crespo, a community planner with the Pratt Center, when she spoke of the study during the February meeting of Community Board 14, which was held at Public School 249, Caton Avenue and Marlborough Road.
“We are going to be doing somebackground research from the office, but we really need stakeholders from the community to help us plan better,” Crespo urged. “If that part of Coney Island Avenue interests you, and you have ideas about what might make it work better for the community, so it can meet the needs of the community better, you might want to be part of this project.”
There is a distinct need for the study, averred Mark Dicus, the BID’s executive director, stressing that the “competing users” along the strip “don’t complement each other.
“A lot of them rely on cars,” he remarked. “Some are tied to the community. Some aren’t. The primary users are people driving through from Point A to Point B or going to a specific destination. They don’t go anyplace else because there‘s nowhere else to go.”
Why is the Church Avenue BID getting involved? “From Church Avenue’s perspective,” explained Dicus, “we’d like to see the area tied together better to draw people that are driving down Coney Island Avenue to stop and shop, and encourage folks who are at the park or the Parade Grounds to come to Church Avenue and Cortelyou Road.”
As it is now, Dicus went on, the strip is more of an “obstacle” to such activity than anything else.
“There are streetscape issues and it’s not very welcoming to pedestrians or bicyclists,” he contended.
Coney Island Avenue, Dicus said, “Can be improved to better serve the community, and bring people out of the park and Parade Ground, create better access, and from our perspective, hopefully they will make a left on Church Avenue.”
While the BID originated the study, there are many organization already engaged in it, Dicus said. Among these, he told this paper, are the Flatbush Development Corporation, the Prospect Park South Association, the Prospect Park Alliance, and the Council of People’s Organizations, as well as “a couple of groups from Kensington” and merchants, Dicus said.
The kickoff meeting with stakeholders was being held as this paper went to press. Those interested in participating in future meetings can contact Crespo at 718-636-3486, extension 6455, or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.