Ridge gardeners: Build a wall to protect green space from highway noise

Ridge gardeners: Build a wall to protect green space from highway noise
Photo by Elizabeth Graham

Bay Ridge gardeners tending the Narrows Botanical Gardens in Shore Road Park are so sick of the sound of cars zipping along the nearby Belt Parkway that they’re willing to have their beloved greenspace walled off — a move some say will kill the park’s views of the harbor.

Green-thumbed Ridgites are pushing the city to build a seven-foot sound wall between their garden and the Belt Parkway to muffle the deafening roar of traffic. The wall will also protect the greenspace from drive-by petunia pluckers, gardeners say.

“People pull up to the side on the Belt Parkway and they reach over and pull our plants up,” said Greg Ahl, a member of both the garden’s Board of Trustees and Community Board 10. Ahl wants the city’s Department of Transportation to build the wall as it refurbishes a pedestrian bridge near 69th Street. “And after you’ve been working 50 feet from the highway for a few hours, the noise gets pretty daunting.”

Plant thieves have cost gardeners thousands of dollars as they routinely replace ripped out flowers, Ahl explained.

Narrows Botanical Gardens co-founder Jimmy Johnson, who landscaped the patch of shrubs, flowers, and rare plants, said the noise coming from the Belt Parkway is driving gardeners batty. The constant drone also ruins the garden’s summer cinema series, he said.

“Part of a garden should be the quietness,” said Johnson. “It’s why having a garden along the highway is difficult.”

The city hasn’t responded to Ahl’s request to build a sound wall between 69th Street to McKay Place, but longtime park-goers are already shouting down the proposal.

“The wall will absolutely destroy the view there,” said CB10 Board member Allen Bortnick.

Tina Tsapovski, who lives on Shore Road, agreed.

“The garden could be anywhere else in Brooklyn, the selling point here is the water,” Tsapovski said.

Johnson admitted that the wall will obscure the view of the harbor, but said gardeners will beautify the barrier by planting climbing vines along the wall to keep it from becoming an eyesore.

“Only along the closest walkway will you not be able to see the water,” Johnson said. “And the places you can see the water there are just gaps where I’m going to plant shrubs in the near future.”

Many park-goers said they wouldn’t want a wall blocking their view, but at least one person saw the value of a sound barrier abutting Shore Road Park.

“It is pretty loud here, and it’s not like we have much of a view here anyway, so it couldn’t hurt,” said resident Kathy Sippel. “It’s pretty bad that people can just steal plants from the garden.”

Yet another nearby resident thought a sound wall would be a complete waste of taxpayer dollars.

“There’s better things to spend money on,” said Maura Loving. “The sound is the sound. It’s city living.”

Reach reporter Will Bredderman at (718) 260–4507 or e-mail him at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/WillBredderman