Hedged out! Law school shrubbery could displace Joralemon St. vendors • Brooklyn Paper

Hedged out! Law school shrubbery could displace Joralemon St. vendors

Uprooted: Vendors Nelia Williams and Paula Tirado may be forced to find a new location if Brooklyn Law School installs its proposed planters on Joralemon Street.
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

Talk about being uprooted!

Vendors who hawk their wares in front of Downtown’s Brooklyn Law School fear the institution’s plan to install large planters on the sidewalk around its building at Joralemon and Adams streets will kick them to the curb.

“They want to put plants in our spots, what are we going to do?” said Bedford-Stuvesant resident Paula Tirado, who has been selling digital video discs on Joralemon Street near Boerum Place for 12 years.

The law school has applied to the Department of Transportation to place 10 box-like containers filled with evergreen boxwood shrubs along the Joralemon Street and Boerum Place pavement. The vegetation, which the school says it wants to install as part of its efforts to “beautify” the area, would stand at 5-foot-9 and span just over nine square feet, according to its plans.

But the proposed site is also a hub of local peddlers, who line the pavement selling kids’ books, compact discs, clothing, fruit, and other goods to Downtowners on the go.

The vendors’ licenses aren’t tied to any specific location — unlike hot dog and halal carts — but Tirado says all the prime locations Downtown are already taken, so she couldn’t simply move down the street if the bushes push her out.

Growing like a weed: Courier Life deputy editor Max Jaeger stands 5-foot-9 — the same height as the proposed planters plus shrubbery.
Community News Group / Ruth Brown

“There’s no spots, it’s all full,” said Tirado, who says she works 12 hours a day and makes around $150.

A spokesman from the law school said it was unaware vendors are already in the plots it wants to install the planters.

Community Board 2 voted to approve the planters earlier this month, though locals also had concerns with the plan — members worry the hedges would block views of traffic and that pedestrians would use the giant flower pots as trash cans.

The exact location of the planters is still being hammered out — the school nominated locations for 13 bramble buckets, but the city will only allow 10. The community board wants to nix ones closest to the corner, and the transportation agency will decide its preference on Tuesday.

If the two parties agree, the department will decide whether to green-light the greenery. But the vendors say they won’t just sit back and allow the prospective planters to muscle in on their workplaces.

“We’ll fight it,” said Nelia Williams, who moved to Brooklyn from Trinidad and Tobago 20 years ago and has been selling books on Joralemon Street ever since. “This is our livelihood, we need to work.”

Green prints: The plans for the Joralemon Street planters.
Chelsea Garden Center

Reach reporter Lauren Gill at lgill@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2511.

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