Park Slope community leaders unanimously rejected a city proposal to turn Sixth and Seventh avenues into one-way streets at a packed meeting Thursday night.
After a presentation by the Department of Transportation, which says the one-way conversion would save lives, reduce accidents and improve traffic flow, local politicians and members of Community Board 6 spoke in one clear voice against the bombshell proposal.
“The community has come together like never before,” said Lydia Denworth, the president of the Park Slope Civic Council. “It is clear that everyone is completely united against this.”
Denworth was one of several speakers who complained that DOT proposal was an attempt to solve the massive traffic from the still-unbuilt Atlantic Yards mega-development by hurting Park Slope’s residential feel.
“We asked you to make it better and you’ve made it worse,” she said.
But DOT Deputy Commissioner Michael Primeggia said converting Seventh and Sixth avenues to one-way traffic would merely allow cars to circulate better within the neighborhood, not attract outsiders using the streets as thoroughfares to and from the proposed Nets arena.
“One-way streets improve safety for all users,” Primeggia said to a chorus of boos, both inside and outside the auditorium at New York Methodist Hospital, which had set up a speaker outside its packed auditorium to allow hundreds of residents who couldn’t fit inside to hear the debate.
“Are one-way streets safer than two-way streets?” Primeggia added. “The answer is a resounding, ‘Yes!’”
He also said that making the avenues one-way “would not increase speeds on Sixth and Seventh avenues.”
But earlier in the week, a group of activists set up a radar gun that captured speeding cars — some going 40 miles per hour — on one-way Eighth Avenue, which 30-miles-per-hour limit.
The general sense that cars would speed along the converted one-way avenues dominated the discussion.
“All of us are profoundly uncomfortable with this proposal,” said Councilman Bill DeBlasio (D–Park Slope). “Seventh Avenue is the lifeblood of our community, and this plan is bad for Seventh Avenue.”
State Sen. Eric Adams (D–Park Slope) added: “I’m seeing a disturbing pattern that we are no longer hearing from the people in the community who will be affected. Don’t tell us what you think we want. Give us what we need.”
Members of the public were not allowed to speak, but in the end, the CB6 Transportation Committee voted unanimously to reject the proposal.
The committee’s recommendation will go to the full board on April 11.
Earlier, the DOT said it would abandon the proposal if the full board rejects it, which is now widely expected.
“Our commissioner, Iris Weinshall, has already said that we will be guided by the decision of the community board on this issue,” said Primeggia. “And we will.”
©2007 Community News Group
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