Downtown’s wish is granite

Borough fall: D’town plaza’s bluestone is tripping hazard, pedestrians allege
Community Newspaper Group / Kate Briquelet

It could be the end of the bluestone era around Borough Hall.

The Parks Department wants to give Downtown’s Columbus Park an $11-million granite makeover to replace the broken bluestone tiles that have been tripping up Brooklynites for years. Officials are pleased as punch about the plan. That is one way of putting it, anyway.

“We’re tickled pink by this project,” said Kevin Jeffrey, the parks department’s Brooklyn commissioner, at a Community Board 2 committee meeting on Monday night. “It’s a long-awaited solution.”

The parks department is pitching the overhaul, with the mayor’s office expected to foot the bill. The plan has the plaza’s classic but crumbling two-inch-thick bluestone slabs being replaced with thicker, three-inch gray granite tiles, buttressed by a six-inch layer of reinforced concrete underneath. Most of the surface would be a textured, light-gray pattern called “jet mist,” with some edge work done in a slightly darker pattern called “charcoal black.”

People have long complained about the state of the park, which is bounded by Joralemon, Court, Johnson, and Adams streets and Cadman Plaza West.

“It’s dangerous. No ifs, ands, or buts about it,” said Anthony Walker from Coney Island, cautiously making his way through the plaza. “All you have to do is trip, and you’ll be crying for days.”

The broken stone slabs caused a 71-year-old woman to fall and break her hip back in 2010, but even then former Borough President Marty Markowitz and other officials could not scare up the cash to get it fixed.

Busted: These broken-up bluestones in the plaza around Borough Hall may soon be getting replaced by sturdier granite.
Photo by Elizabeth Graham

“Renovation of the plaza has been an issue for at least five years,” said the community board’s district manager Robert Perris.

The current plan focuses on the Borough Hall side of the park and leaves the existing stones in place on the stretch approaching Johnson Street, past the Christopher Columbus Monument.

Parks officials expect the new sidewalks to hold up under the weight of trucks and other vehicles that drive in to set up the farmers market and other plaza events. They point to revamps in Manhattan’s City Hall and Washington Square parks that used similar materials as proof that the stuff is tough enough.

There is not yet a time table for the resurfacing.

The full community board is expected to vote to issue a letter of support for the project on Feb. 12, after press time.

After that, the job needs approval from the city.

Hike piazza: The parks department wants to revamp the pedestrian walk in Columbus Park, replacing the storied bluestones that surround Borough Hall with solid granite.
Matthew Perlman

Reach reporter Matthew Perlman at (718) 260-8310. E-mail him at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @matthewjperlman.