DOT planning to ‘Open’ Smith Street in Carroll Gardens

Screenshot 2022-06-10 115159
The cacophonous Smith streetscape in 2020, with outdoor dining, a bike lane, and a congested roadway.
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The city’s Department of Transportation wants to place a new Open Street on seven blocks of Smith Street in Carroll Gardens, hoping to occasionally close off the street to automobile traffic and open it up for outdoor dining and assorted cultural activities.

Local City Councilmember Lincoln Restler announced on Twitter Thursday that DOT is planning to site five new Open Streets in his North Brooklyn district, with the most significant being the seven-block escapade on Smith Street between Union and Wyckoff streets that would be opened to pedestrians on Saturdays. At present the roadway is a major commercial thoroughfare frequently choked with car traffic along its relatively narrow right-of-way.

Restler also said DOT is planning shorter, single-block open streets on Remsen Street in Brooklyn Heights, North 7th Street in Williamsburg, and Greenpoint and Bedford avenues in Greenpoint. Those on Remsen and North 7th streets would be open five days per week.

“We are working to ensure that they are safe and enjoyable public spaces,” Restler said. “Community feedback and input is vital.”

DOT spokesperson Vin Barone said the plans are tentative and not final, and that the agency will soon start the public review process with the local community boards and other stakeholders.

Open Streets first launched in 2020 at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, as city officials sought to provide more open space to New Yorkers living under lockdown. The program has since been made permanent and proved popular, with many locations becoming a draw for local neighborhoods and businesses. Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso now says he hopes to make the popular Vanderbilt Avenue open street in Prospect Heights into a permanent public plaza, and believes that can serve as a model for other neighborhoods across the borough.

Nonetheless, it has caught the ire of some local residents who say communities were not sufficiently engaged before the proliferation of open streets, and would prefer the streets remain the domain for car drivers and parked vehicles.