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‘Union’ busters! City considers plan to demap street near McCarren Park

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McCarren Park is about to swallow a piece of Union Avenue.

A parks advocacy group is getting closer to convincing the city to close Union Avenue between Driggs Avenue and Bayard Street, and turn it into a park.

Cars traveling south from Greenpoint typically use the street as a shortcut from Driggs Avenue to the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, but community leaders want to see the street closed to traffic permanently and the adjacent McCarren Park dog run renovated.

Traffic would be rerouted to N. 12th Street or Lorimer Street, outside the boundaries of the park.

“It’s important because we have a scarcity of parkland in the neighborhood and this helps increase our open space, expanding our larger regional park,” said Open Space Alliance Executive Director Stephanie Thayer.

Transferring control of a street from the Department of Transportation to the Parks Department won’t be cheap. That’s why the Alliance last week pledged $50,000 to fund an environmental study that would determine the most appropriate use of the site.

City officials have not indicated their support for the project or whether the site would stay asphalt or become grass, though Thayer, also a Parks Department administrator, remains confident that the change will happen.

The project has some constituents anxious. The street is currently the site of a weekly Greenmarket, which has had a presence in McCarren Park for 12 years before it moved outside the park last October. Greenmarket officials begrudgingly accepted the move at the time, though most worried that the move would reduce their sales from residents near the north end of the park.

Greenmarket Director Michael Hurwitz said that the Parks Department has told him that it wants the McCarren market on Union Avenue indefinitely, but the notion of demapping the street and turning it into parkland has him concerned.

“All I care about is that we have a home,” said Hurwitz. “My understanding is moving to Union Avenue was an appropriate location for use because we are not interfering with grass [on the McCarren ball fields].”

That said, Community Board 1 Land-Use Committee Chairman Ward Dennis thinks that turning the street into a pedestrian plaza is a good idea for everyone who uses it.

“It’s a very passive end of the park and I think that has worked well,” said Dennis.

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Reader Feedback

Joey from Clinton Hills says:
Great idea!
April 12, 2010, 9:25 am
ms nomer from greenpoint says:
Everyone loves the Greenmarket - they shouldn't worry about being displaced. There are lots of ways to integrate that street into park space without making it all grass-covered. The community just wants to convert the space back into park use, not driving/parking use.
April 12, 2010, 9:36 am
Annick from 11211 says:
I hope they close it and keep the street asphalt, so the Green Market can stay right there; and there will be safe crossing between those sections of park. We certainly don't need to spend a fortune on an area of the park that is pretty terrific as it is. If OSA has money to burn (or is trying to get), spend it on a bathroom near the soccer fields. I am soooo tired of the public urination along Bayard street.
April 14, 2010, 9:19 pm
Goyo from Los Sures says:
Another stupid idea that will comeback to haunt all the citizens. You need streets to control an environment. Closing the street means the police can not effectively police this large area. Think aboutit it's the city not farmland!
April 19, 2010, 4:53 pm
bk says:
This is terribly researched. OSA did not come up with this idea, it was part of the rezoning. Driggs and Union in the park were both slated for demapping. The study was done last year, OSA shouldn't be ponying up any money for it. Does this reporter just quote press releases and believe everything people tell him? How about a little shoeleather?
May 17, 2010, 10:24 am

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