Some good-for-nothings stole a bunch of Open Streets barriers in Williamsburg and threw them over a fence into a waterfront lot on Saturday morning, reopening the usually-closed Berry Street roadway to motor vehicles by force, according to one local volunteer who helps to keep the barricades in place.
“We had put in hours and hours to maintain the barriers, and to see them so callously tossed into the East River is really disappointing,” said Greenpoint resident Noel Hidalgo.
Do-gooders of the North Brooklyn Open Streets Community Coalition — a collection of nonprofits and other community groups formed to look after five Open Streets in the area — noticed that all of the Police Department-issued blue hurdles were missing that morning along the street from S. First to N. 12th streets.
“Volunteers woke up for their morning walk at 8 am, and discovered that all of the barriers north of S. First were missing, gone, removed,” Hidalgo said.
Around 12:45 pm, locals spotted the wooden blockades hurled over a fence into a grassy waterfront lot, which is slated to become part of Bushwick Inlet Park, at Franklin and N. 15th Street.
“They were DUMPED into what will eventually be Bushwick Inlet Park. THIS IS BEYOND UPSETTING,” the coalition tweeted.
We found our community's #openstreetNYC barriers. They were DUMPED into what will eventually be Bushwick Inlet Park. THIS IS BEYOND UPSETTING. @ReynosoBrooklyn @StephenLevin33 @CarlinaRivera @NYCSpeakerCoJo @ydanis @TransAlt @dahvnyc @StreetsblogNYC @NYC_DOT pic.twitter.com/GbVNpuPC7W
— North Brooklyn Open Streets Community Coalition (@NBk_OSCC) September 19, 2020
The vigilante move reopened more than two-thirds of the almost one-mile stretch of pedestrian and bike-friendly Berry Street back to car traffic, causing several local politicos to denounce the act.
“On a beautiful Saturday morning, some jerk decided their reckless entitlement, their belief that cars should dominate every public street, was the only thing that matters,” said Democratic Assembly nominee Emily Gallagher on Twitter.
“This is infuriating,” said local District Leader-elect Kristina Naplatarski on Twitter. “Neighbors in Greenpoint and Williamsburg work so hard to coordinate daily placement and removal and upkeep of barriers so that the community can enjoy a successful and safe #OpenStreets program. Such a shame that folks feel the need to try to spoil it.”
The Department of Transportation closed off the thoroughfare from N. 12th all the way to Broadway back in May, and the coalition has been painstakingly maintaining the barricades — decoratively painting them, and keeping them standing despite some disgruntled drivers, according to the north Brooklynite, who said the team has had to replace parts of them several times due to motorists smashing into them.
“Drivers are not kind to these barriers,” he said. “We’re talking close to 100 [barrier] legs being replaced over the course of the last few months. We’re close to 25 cross bars that we have either replaced or performed maintenance on.”
Hidalgo suspects this latest act of destruction was likely at the hands of motorcyclists tearing up the street to attend Sept. 19’s annual memorial for the late local chopper manufacturer Indian Larry outside his shop on N. 15th Street, between Wythe Avenue and Banker Street, just a block away from the dumping site.
“It’s suspicious that the community’s Open Streets barriers ended up a block or two away from the motorcycle shop on the day that they were scheduled to have 300 motorcyclists in attendance,” he said.
That block was also the site where some partygoers reportedly painted a vulgar street mural saying, “F— CUOMO AND DE BLASIO” in the yellow letters style of the city’s Black Lives Matter murals, the New York Post reported.
After residents called the local 94th Precinct, cops deployed new barriers by around noon that day, according to Hidalgo, who said commanding officer Captain Kathleen Fahey saw the photos of the tossed barriers, and is aware of the incident.
The Police Department press office did not return a request for comment on whether they are investigating the barriers’ destruction. Indian Larry Motorcycles also did not return a request for comment.