Hop on the DUMBO trolley!

The Brooklyn Paper
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Now that Cadman Plaza East between Tillary Street and Red Cross Place has become a private, guarded parking lot for courthouse employees, it’s time for area residents to get something back.

Each day, as I take my 15-minute stroll from the Court Street subway station down the hill to The Brooklyn Papers’ offices in DUMBO, I get increasingly annoyed as I’m forced to weave around the bumpers of cars pushed up onto the curbs to maximize parking spaces in this now-privately run public street dividing Cadman Plaza and Walt Whitman parks.

I guess I should just be happy that the security guards, who sit in idling Ford Crown Victorias at either end of the lot, allow me to pass through — although I should wear a gas mask to guard against the fumes spewing out so they can remain warm in the winter and cool in the summer (when they have to pop the hoods of the vehicles so the cars don’t overheat).

Considering that the federal government absconded with the street without any public discourse (Was there ever a meeting? Did CB2 ever bring this up?) I think we deserve something in exchange, something that would be a boon to the people of DUMBO, visitors from around the world and, most importantly, me.

What I’m proposing is a trolley that would run from Borough Hall down Cadman Plaza East, to Washington Street with a turnaround at the existing Brooklyn Bridge Park at John Street.

Along the way, the trolley could make stops at the main Post Office and the exit (or entrance, depending on whether you’re coming or going) to the currently decrepit Brooklyn Bridge footpath.

Of course, it would not stop at the courthouse as, apparently, everyone who works there drives — hence the need for the private parking lot on the stolen street.

Such a trolley would accomplish three things: First, it would give the good people of DUMBO easy access to Downtown Brooklyn’s extensive network of subways. Second, it would give every Brooklyn-fearing traveler from around the globe easy access aboard a historic train to our great Borough President’s tourist information center at Borough Hall. (And finally, it would cut a good 20 minutes off my daily commute.)

The trolley could be funded with federal money — as reimbursement for the seizure of our street — and could cost a buck a ride, or $2 with a free transfer to or from any nearby subway when using a Metrocard.

I discussed this proposal with Borough President Markowitz a few months ago, and he told me he was working on bringing back trolleys throughout the Downtown area, possibly connecting to Red Hook. The only problem, he said, was funding.

While that’s all well and good, methinks Marty is doing things on too grand a scale. My 4,000-foot trolley line would require less money and, hence, less politics, and would provide a simple good.

And we could finally get something in return for those two idling Crown Vics we have to walk past every morning.

Vince DiMiceli is The Brooklyn Papers’ senior editor. His e-mail is

Updated 4:00 pm, November 10, 2010
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