Kensington’s French kiss off

Kensington’s French kiss off
The DOT wants to turn this extended sidewalk on Beverly Road at Church Avenue into a pedestrian plaza — but some residents are worried about people congregating.
Photo by Steve Solomonson

Kensington residents are shooting down the city’s plan to turn Church Avenue and Beverly Road into a “Parisian” plaza teeming with benches and trees, claiming that the proposed champs elysees will become a home base for neighborhood hoodlums.

“We don’t need more people hanging out,” resident Janet Halden said as she slammed the changes proposed for the corner, where the city wants to bring three benches, three trees, granite bollards and a bike rack to a large patch of concrete in front of a Walgreens. “People already congregate there and if I see a crowd in front of Walgreens, I won’t go in!”

Some residents say that the city should clean up the corner — which is already falling apart due to a shoddy concrete job — before the city goes ahead with plans envisioned by resident and one-time blogger Jole Carliner, who solicited designs for the intersection from neighborhood architecture firms and prodded the Department of Transportation and Councilman Brad Lander (D–Park Slope) into action.

Carliner hopes the corner will resemble the plazas she remembers as a young woman living in Paris.

“We need to have neighborhood groups screaming bloody murder to do this,” Carliner explained.

Resident Bridget Elder agreed, claiming that benches would be a boon for Church Avenue.

“A bench is a rare thing in Kensington,” she said. “We can make people feel more neighborhoody by having this plaza.”

Yet some believe the neighborhood has enough public seating.

“We already have community spaces,” said Kensington resident Anne Rogan, “We already have a playground and we have Ocean Parkway for miles!”

The city’s proposal doesn’t need to be approved by Community Board 12, since the space the Department of Transportation wants to change is so small, but the Department of Transportation promised that the 66th precinct will increase their presence around the proposed space to prevent it from becoming a hooligan hangout.

Lander said he and the Department of Transportation will solicit more feedback from the community before deciding on what the plaza would look like.

“It’s an idea that people in the community have come up with and would like,” said Lander. “But if the project doesn’t work, it doesn’t have to stay.”

March 9, 1:20 pm. The story was updated to correct an editorial mistake that misidentified the community board mentioned in the piece. The meeting was sponsored by Community Board 12, not Community Board 14.

Reach reporter Eli Rosenberg at erosenberg@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-2531. And follow him at twitter.com/emrosenberg.

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