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Park vs. parking: Plan to expand McCarren isn’t getting a greenlight from drivers

Add it up: By getting rid of this block of Union Avenue, the triangle that holds the dog runs and the weekend farmer’s market could soon become contiguous with the rest of the south end of the park.
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

Would you rather have an open space or a parking space?

That’s the question in North Brooklyn, where the city plans to convert a block-long stretch of Union Avenue into a green space that would link two sections of McCarren Park — despite opposition from drivers who claim bolstering North Brooklyn’s biggest open area isn’t worth removing 34 parking spots.

By “demapping” a single block of roadway between Driggs Avenue and N. 12th Street, the Parks Department would add 33,8000 square feet to the park at the border of Williamsburg and Greenpoint — enough room to fit about seven basketball courts.

“The idea is to add to the open space,” said director of parkland Colleen Alderson.

The plan would connect a small triangular section of McCarren Park — which currently holds dog runs and the weekend farmer’s market — with the rest of the park’s southern end, replacing the roadway with planting beds featuring lush perennials, low-growing shrubs, loading zones for vendors, and subterranean catch basins to improve drainage and prevent standing water.

“We want to proceed with this so that we can add to the resources of the community,” said Alderson.

Alderson said her agency — which announced the plan last year and started the rezoning process this month — studied the roadway and determined that losing the block-long throughway and its 34 parking spaces wouldn’t create a significant hardship for neighborhood residents.

But motorists claim those spots are desperately needed.

“There is no sufficient supply of parking around there,” said Community Board 1 member Lisa Bamonte. “You have to drive around for 45 minutes as it is.”

Bamonte will have a chance to weigh in the plan when it goes before CB1.

Drivers say the Union Avenue stretch is a neighborhood parking utopia because it doesn’t abut any housing, but supporters of the plan — including some drivers — say parkland trumps parking.

“I have a car and I drove here,” said green space user Sam Richardson in an interview inside McCarren Park. “Parkland is a superior use of land, even if it is more inconvenient.”

Reach reporter Danielle Furfaro at dfurfaro@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-2511. Follow her at twitter.com/DanielleFurfaro.

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