Putnam Triangle foes fight to save hated plaza

Putnam Triangle foes fight to save hated plaza
Photo by Elizabeth Graham

The biggest opponents of a controversial Clinton Hill pedestrian plaza have become the mini-park’s staunchest defenders by blasting a city plan to hack away a few feet of the open space to make room for buses.

Critics of the Putnam Triangle — the public space where Putnam and Grand avenues converge with Fulton Street — lambasted the Department of Transportation and a neighborhood merchants group late last year for creating the European-style piazza with tables, benches, and plantings.

Now they’re furious that neither the city nor the Fulton Area Business Alliance informed them of plans to tear out a corner of the pedestrian plaza so that Downtown-bound B26 buses won’t veer into the oncoming lane and halt traffic while turning from Grand Avenue onto Fulton Street.

“We’re tired of being treated as a guinea pig for the Department of Transportation’s experiments,” said Schellie Hagan, who produced a film about chronicling opposition to the Putnam Triangle.

Many curb cut critics — who initially contested the pedestrian-only plaza at the foot of Putnam Avenue over claims it impedes side street access and came into effect without community input — say it makes more sense to reroute the bus than rip up a portion of the square less than one year after its installation.

“The work costs a lot of money at a time when the city is saying they don’t have any,” said corner cut opponent Joe Gonzalez.

Gonzalez and others want the bus to turn from Putnam Avenue onto Fulton Street a block before the tiny park, at Downing Street rather than Grand Avenue.

A Department of Transportation spokesman said once the road work is finished, the B26 bus won’t have to make such a wide turn to skirt the Putnam Triangle — a maneuver that often obstructs a lane of oncoming, Bedford-Stuyvesant-bound traffic.

The spokesman said a start date for the project hasn’t been set and declined to discuss its cost.

Plaza supporters said tweaking its design would ease traffic congestion in the area.

“It makes sense,” said Phillip Kellogg, the director of the Fulton Area Business Alliance. “It’s a solution to making the turn smoother and it looks like it will do that.”

Reach reporter Daniel Bush at [email protected] or by calling (718) 260-8310. Follow him at twitter.com/dan_bush.

Sidewalk showdown: The city plans to cut out part of the sidewalk on Fulton and Grand streets to give the Downtown-bound B26 more room to turn.
Photo by Elizabeth Graham