The city floated a plan to Community Board 15 to turn part of Sheepshead Bay Road one way, and close a stretch of E. 15th Street altogether — but the idea sank like a rock.
The plan presented at a CB15 meeting on June 16 aims to ease congestion around Sheepshead Bay Road between E. 15th Street and Jerome Avenue, near the Sheepshead Bay Station for the B and Q trains, which is notorious for traffic, trash, homeless people and car crashes. But board members worry that the drastic changes that the Department of Transportation is proposing could make conditions in the area even worse.
“A change is not automatically a correction,” said CB15 member Maurice Kolodin. “It can make it worse.”
For example, the city wants to close the segment of E. 15th Street between Avenue Z and Sheepshead Bay Road, with visions of eventually converting it into a pedestrian plaza with shops and outdoor seating. But the chairwoman of CB15 pointed out that closing that part of E. 15th Street could turn it into a trash heap long before it became a shopping street, by exacerbating the area’s chronic litter problem.
“Go to E. 15th Street right now, and I would bet you that it is filthy,” said Theresa Scavo. “So what’s going to happen on a closed street? Everybody throwing garbage, and it’ll sit there for days on end.”
She also warned that the closed street would likely become a haven for the homeless, worsening the existing problem at the subway station.
“Right now, go to the train station, and I will guarantee a minimum of three to four homeless people are living there right at this moment,” she said. “Now you’re giving them a place to live.”
The city also wants to convert Sheepshead Bay Road to a one-way street heading eastbound between E. 15th Street and Jerome Avenue, redirecting northbound traffic to Jerome Avenue via E. 17th Street. The conversion would require rerouting the B36 bus so that it remains on Avenue Z rather than dropping off passengers near the subway entrance on Sheepshead Bay Road.
A member of CB15’s transportation committee fears the new route will be a significant blow to convenience and safety for passengers.
“People who are late for work want to be able to say, ‘Oh good, the bus left me off here, and right there’s the train station. I don’t have far to go,’ ” said Debra Greif. “If you’re putting me back on Z, I’ll have to walk down, and believe me, it’s not well-lit.”
Scavo said that the proposal provides a good starting point, but it needs more scrutiny to avoid unintended consequences.
“There are some good points, but I think it has to be tweaked,” said Scavo.
The Department of Transportation will hold additional meetings with the community board — the next one tentatively scheduled for June 30 — to review changes made following the board’s input.