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Fourth plan stalls: CB10 postpones vote on avenue overhaul

Island in the stream: The city is suggesting a concrete island to give refuge to pedestrians crossing Fourth Avenue on the southern side of 86th Street.
Courtesy of Department of Transportation

The Department of Transportation’s controversial plan for Fourth Avenue has hit a speed bump.

Community Board 10 members opposed to the proposal blocked a vote on the redesign on June 17, postponing the neighborhood panel’s decision until October.

CB10’s action came just days after Community Board 6 resoundingly rejected the city’s plans for the avenue in Park Slope.

The Bay Ridge board voted overwhelmingly to delay the vote until the fall after an hour-and-a-half-long debate over the plans to raise a concrete island on the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge side of the 86th Street intersection and to put up a pedestrian fence stretching from the corner of Third Avenue halfway down toward 87th Street.

Longtime critics of the plan were behind the measure to delay, claiming the Department of Transportation hasn’t given the board enough time to analyze the new designs — despite the fact that the agency unveiled most of the proposal in March and has held several public hearings on the project.

“We have not been given adequate opportunity to really look at this plan and make a decision for the whole community,” said Rev. Khader El-Yateem, who made the motion to postpone — and who blasted the concrete island at a meeting last month.

But outraged supporters of the city’s traffic-slowing plan warned that failing to approve some reforms would lead to more collisions on the avenue — which a federal study ranked as the third most dangerous roadway in Brooklyn, and which has been the site of several horrific accidents in the past year.

“Fourth Avenue the way it is doesn’t work, and if we don’t vote to make some kind of change now, more people are going to get hit,” said Andrew Gounardes.

Even CB10 members who had remained largely neutral on the proposal expressed disappointment in the postponement — noting that the board’s Traffic and Transportation Committee had overwhelmingly supported parts of the plan that they never had the opportunity to discuss before the decision to adjourn.

Last week, the committee voted in favor of stripping away a lane between 95th and 101st streets on the Sunset Park-bound side to slow down drivers coming off the Belt Parkway. It also voted for relocating eight parking spots from Fourth Avenue between 65th and 66th streets to Shore Road Drive in order to form a new lane and reduce congestion.

They also backed shaving the thoroughfare down to a single lane in each direction for 13 blocks between Ovington Avenue and 86th Street, widening parking lanes, and creating a left turn bay at 75th Street. But the general board voted to set back a final decision before those issues even came up.

“It was a shame. I really wanted them to move ahead. The committee wanted them to move ahead,” said committee chairman Brian Kieran. “There were things in this proposal that I think people would have supported wholeheartedly, if they had gotten the chance to vote on them.”

But the plan’s detractors applauded the decision, arguing the board had dodged a speeding bullet.

“If we don’t stop DOT now, we’re really in trouble, because they are trying to destroy New York City,” said outspoken critic Allen Bortnick.

CB10 will meet at undecided dates in July, August, and September to discuss the proposal further before the October vote.

The Department of Transportation could theoretically steamroll over the board’s decision — or indecision — since the panel’s vote is strictly advisory. But the city has a history of respecting CB10’s recommendations.

Reach reporter Will Bredderman at wbredderman@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4507. Follow him attwitter.com/WillBredderman.

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