Open Streets will return to Park Slope’s Fifth Avenue after local merchants secure new sponsor

Art Stroll & Outdoor dining Open Streets
Courtesy of Park Slope Fifth Avenue Business Improvement District.

Park Slope’s popular “Open Street” will go ahead this summer thanks to a group of Fifth Avenue merchants who banded together to secure funding for the car-free program along the bustling shopping and dining district.

Local business owners formed the Fifth Avenue Open Streets Merchant Association last month after the neighborhood’s Business Improvement District pulled out of the program due to a lack of funding from the city to shoulder the costs of staffing, insurance, and general programming — an issue impacting open streets around the borough

The association confirmed to Brooklyn Paper that New York Presbyterian Hospital has come on board as the presenting sponsor of this year’s pedestrian-friendly plazas, in conjunction with U. Santini Moving & Storage, the Department of Transportation and the Open Streets program.

Recently approved by the DOT, a stretch of Fifth Avenue from President Street to Second Street will be a car free zone every Saturday from May to November, with a break in August. Beginning May 4, the streets will become a space for events and performances across four blocks — reduced down from the traditional closure of 16 blocks.

“As a participant of it for the last four years, I saw how the community came together and how everybody loves the program and comes out every Saturday,” said Brendan Byrnes, owner of The Commissioner bar and member of the newly formed merchants’ association.

“It’s going to have to be smaller because we’re an all volunteer organization, and the management of it’s going to be a little bit more difficult,” Byrnes told Brooklyn Paper, noting that they would not have been able to put the program into place “without standing on the shoulders of what the BID created over the last four years.”

To snag a sponsor, the merchants’ association enlisted the expertise of Byrnes’ wife, Jessica Kausen, who has a background in marketing.

Pitching to prospective sponsors was a labor of love for the couple, who were married in a ceremony outside of The Commissioner during Fifth Avenue’s open street last June.

Kausen said they were delighted to have New York Presbyterian come on board and save the program, adding that the association is “really excited to step up and help out the businesses on that avenue and to give people a place to go.”

“New York-Presbyterian is dedicated to uplifting the community it serves and is proud to support Park Slope Open Streets as this year’s presenting sponsor,” a spokesperson for New York Presbyterian said. “We are excited to help continue an initiative beloved by Park Slope residents that will encourage families to improve their physical and mental health in a safe, car-free environment.”

As part of taking the reins for this years open street, the group distributed a public survey to the community to ask for their feedback on Open Streets.

“We learned a lot from the surveying. There was huge support but we also wanted to take into consideration the feedback the community had about the issues that they had about open streets,” said Kausen. “A couple of folks pointed out that the signage from DOT or [the Metropolitan Transportation Authority] wasn’t very clear about how the buses were impacted. Our plan is to have more signage maps with clear directions.”

When Open Streets is in effect on the Saturdays from May 4 to Oct. 26, the B63 will not serve stops from Atlantic Avenue to Ninth Street in both directions, and will be detoured to Fourth Avenue.