Small order: Heights youngsters beg mayor to spare Promenade

Small order: Heights youngsters beg mayor to spare Promenade
Photo by Caroline Ourso

They’re pint-sized Promenade fans!

Kids penned letters to Mayor DeBlasio on Sunday begging him to spare the beloved Brooklyn Heights Promenade from becoming a six-lane highway for no less than six years during the looming reconstruction of the Brooklyn–Queens Expressway.

The youngsters, who got the civic-engagement lesson as part of a letter-writing campaign organized by locals trying to save the walkway, told Hizzoner that the thousands of trucks, cars, and buses that would zip by on the proposed speedway would ruin air quality and cause other issues in the area, said one sixth grader who sent a missive.

“I am really upset about how the Department of Transportation may put a six-lane highway on the Promenade for six years,” said India Eisenstadt, who lives in Brooklyn Heights. “That is all the way through middle and high school! It would ruin the air and there would be so much pollution.”

Eisenstadt joined hundreds of kids and adults at Pierrepont Playground in Brooklyn Heights for the mass mailing, which drew so many locals with impassioned pleas for the mayor that hosts couldn’t find enough paper to write them on, according to an organizer.

“We had a very enthusiastic turn out,” said Brooklyn Heights resident Hilary Jager, a member of the local group Save the Promenade, which recently renamed itself A Better Way NYC. “We ran out of postcards.”

Jager — whose organization last month launched an online petition urging the mayor to spare the beloved Promenade that now has nearly 50,000 signatures — said the group chose to rebrand in order to address more issues related to the forthcoming repairs to the expressway’s 1.5-mile triple cantilever between Sands Street and Atlantic Avenue, including pollution, traffic, and alternative transportation options, not just saving the walkway atop the three-tiered structure.

“The effort is really bigger than saving the Promenade, it’s about creating solutions, transportation solutions, how we manage air quality, noise pollutions, how the city works with us,” she said. “We realize it’s a complicated project that encompasses more than saving a landmark, also coming up with a plan that is better for the environment and better for transportation.”

The letter writing campaign followed a similar stunt for which locals wrote odes to the Promenade in chalk, which came about a month after the city revealed two options it is considering for repairing the crumbling triple cantilever — one of which calls for turning the Promenade into the six-lane speedway feet from some people’s windows, which would take no less than six years, and the other proposes a lane-by-lane reconstruction of the expressway that would cause traffic jams stretching for up to 12 miles, take at least eight years, and still close the walkway for at least two of those.

Both scenarios would cost more than $3 billion, nearly double the price tag officials originally predicted, and could start as early as 2020.

Last month, Mayor DeBlasio publicly endorsed the option to replace the esplanade with a temporary highway — which he equated to pulling off a Band-Aid — but he dialed back his support for that plan days after coming out in favor of it, later saying the city would explore all options, including a scheme supported by some locals and pols that would send expressway traffic along the border of Brooklyn Bridge Park.

Reach reporter Julianne Cuba at (718) 260–4577 or by e-mail at jcuba@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @julcuba.
Anywhere but here: Youngsters Ava Oakley, India Eisenstadt, and Eliza Barrett on Sunday protested the city’s potential proposal to replace the Brooklyn Heights Promenade with a six-lane highway.
Photo by Caroline Ourso