Ugly barricades in creepy space under Manhattan Bridge have to go, say locals

Knock down those barriers: Doreen Gallo has been pushing for the transportation department to clean up the area underneath the Manhattan Bridge for years.
Brooklyn Paper
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Beyond the barricades there is a world they long to see!

Dumbo residents want the city to install a light and remove a pile of old concrete barricades from a particularly dank space under the Manhattan Bridge, which they say could be hiding all sorts of horrors from unsuspecting pedestrians.

“It feels very dangerous,” said Doreen Gallo, president of local civic group the Dumbo Neighborhood Alliance. “Move the barricades and put a little light because it really is unsafe.”

Gallo says she has been pushing the city to clean up the triangular space bounded by Prospect, Jay and Sands streets since 2007. The area is constantly littered with Department of Transportation equipment and is gloomy and creepy even in the middle of the day, she says.

Currently, there are at least 30 concrete barriers on the Belgian-blocked space, and local workers say they go out of their way to avoid the triangle because they’re afraid of people popping out and attacking them.

“A couple of my colleagues are always wary of walking in this little triangle because they think the little blocks here are hiding people,” said Ming Ooi, who works nearby. “They will walk a roundabout way to avoid it.”

The underpass was a sparsely travelled area of the neighborhood for many years, when the surrounding buildings were all part of the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ printing operations. But Donald Trump’s developer son-in-law bought the compound from the church a few years ago, and has since turned it into a bustling office complex called Dumbo Heights, filled with hip co-working spaces and the headquarters of online retailer Etsy.

With so much money and traffic flowing in, you’d expect city officials and business leaders to put a little more effort into gussying the area up, Gallo says.

“It surprises me with the Dumbo Heights development that that’s not an area they’re worried about,” she said.

Councilman Steve Levin (D–Dumbo) has joined in Gallo’s clean-up crusade and the pair have toured the site with transportation officials several times — most recently in the spring — but they never offered any concrete plan to clean it up, she said.

The agency claims the barriers are being stored under the bridge “temporarily” and it will “soon” move them to a yard for long-term storage, though didn’t say when or where.

Gallo is a Community Board 2 member, and plans to bring up the treacherous triangle at the panel’s next transportation committee meeting in January, where she hopes the members will draft a resolution demanding something be done.

Reach reporter Lauren Gill at or by calling (718) 260–2511. Follow her on Twitter @laurenk_gill
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Dooty Foo says:
How about telling that ugly old lady to go. People who live in ugly glass faces shouldn't throw stones.
Dec. 22, 2016, 1:49 pm
ujh from Downtown Brooklyn says:
Previously, the space underneath the Manhattan Bridge was used to store materials and equipment needed for bridge repairs. Thanks, Doreen, for publicizing this new and unacceptable condition. Obviously, the Dumbo Heights management is the primary force to be engaged, preferably before conversion of the JW dormitory building on the corner of Jay and Sands Streets into a hotel gets underway.
Dec. 22, 2016, 2:38 pm
mary from dumbo says:
Gallo and Levin... appearing to do good
doing dirty deals.. what a duo.. Gallo get s $$and support for her non-profit from Levin.. says she represents the community.. really represents herself..and advertises for Levin.. its local... pay to play
Dec. 22, 2016, 3:50 pm
Alex from Navy Yard says:
This whole area is a wasteland. Any movement on a York St subway entrance south of the BQE?
Dec. 23, 2016, 3:10 pm

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