A streetcar named our ire! Friends of BQX trolley say Heights Association derailed them!

Good or bad: Backers of the Brooklyn-Queens Connector say the Brooklyn Heights Association doens't want to hear the good things about this planned streetcar.
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They got railroaded!

Supporters of Mayor DeBlasio’s controversial $2.5-billion streetcar say the powerful Brooklyn Heights Association is so opposed to the plan that it silences anyone anxious to get on board with the trolley.

The group, Friends of the Brooklyn-Queens Connector, made the accusation against the “elite” Association Wednesday, one day after an the Heights group hosted a panel discussion that declared the streetcar plan is nothing but a folly that is not only bad as transit policy, but also a force for gentrification along the route.

“It’s no surprise that this exclusive and litigious group, which has consistently tried to prevent new parks, affordable housing, and anything else that might benefit people other than a small subset of the property owners who already live in Brooklyn Heights, refused our months of asking to meet, speak, or have a voice on this panel,” the Friends said in a statement, which claimed 100 community groups “support” the Long-Island-City-to-Sunset-Park rail line.

But the head of the civic group — which is in the middle of a lawsuit claiming some development in Brooklyn Bridge Park is unnecessary — said that this was the first he’d heard of any request by the pro-trolley group to be on the panel.

“They are mischaracterizing the situation, no one every conveyed to me that they were looking to be on the panel,” said Peter Bray, who is the executive director of the neighborhood group.

And Friends spokesman Stu Loeser later revealed it had never asked to be part of the panel and had just planned to ask at a Feb. 17 meeting that was pushed back to March.

The Association’s panel included New York Times columnist and former transit writer Jim Dwyer; advocate David Bragdon of Transit Center; transit blogger Ben Kabak of Second Ave. Sagas; City College civil engineering assistant professor Candace Brakewood; and Samuel Stein, a doctoral student who has written about the streetcar for Jacobin magazine.

The panel was skeptical about a city claim that the project will be funded entirely from property tax increases along the route, arguing that Hizzoner would be better off using the project’s hefty price tag to improve transit across a much-broader area of the city.

The Heights Association did not put an advocate for the streetcar on the panel because it was hoping to have an objective discussion so residents could hear the pros and cons of the project without bias, said the group’s executive director, Peter Bray.

“The board (did not want) paid promoters,” he said. “We were looking for people who have no specific professional ties to the project because we wanted there to be different perspectives and not someone whose job it is to simply promote the project.”

And Bray took exception to the Friends of the Brooklyn-Queens Connector depiction of the Heights Association as elitist because anyone can join.

“We’re a membership organizati­on,” he said. “I don’t think the Friends of the BQX are membership, so who’s the exclusive organizati­on?”

The Friends group is chaired by real estate mogul Jed Walentas, whose Two Trees owns property all along the proposed route of the streetcar, which is being backed by development forces.

The Brooklyn Heights Association has not taken a position on the streetcar, though the group is not known for reticence. Bray said he is open to meeting with the Friends to learn more about the project.

Reach reporter Lauren Gill at or by calling (718) 260–2511. Follow her on Twitter @laurenk_gill
Posted 11:38 am, March 2, 2017
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Reasonable discourse

Blogger Bill from from Boerum Hill says:
Of course the "Friends" would gripe. Their sacred
cow--erh, streetcar--was fairly maligned by this
panel of experts so let's cry and complain. Sure,
trolleys may be great in Sheboygan (they were
in Brooklyn too, 75 years ago). BQX just won't cut
it today in the budget floodplain, where superior
alternatives exist. Thank you BHA for the facts.
March 2, 2017, 10:07 am
Pedro Valdez Rivera Jr. from BS, BK, NY, US says:
Let's see how this particular issue and the BQX proposal could impact mayor de Blasio's chances of being reelected? The impartial and objective voters will be the judge of that.
March 2, 2017, 10:11 am
Resident from Brooklyn says:
The BQX is a boondoggle. For the cost of this useless line, we could invest in better bus service transit all over the place.
March 2, 2017, 10:31 am
Ken from Fort Greene says:
There are tons of other places in Brooklyn that could use 2.5B in funding for development and such.

East New York, East Flatbush, Brownsville...

Places that are underserved by this City and its representatives. Places wherein if jobs and the ability for upward mobility existed, poverty and crime levels would undoubtedly drop.

Places where long time residents, often hardworking Brooklynites, deserve an opportunity to live where they were raised or grew up, without fear of the neighborhood becoming too "pricey" or expensive to live in.

The Mayor should focus his efforts there...
March 2, 2017, 10:50 am
Bratwurst Bob from Sheboygan says:
Bill, there are no trolleys in Sheboygan. Shoreline Metro operates seven bus lines but that is the extent of public transportation in "The City of Cheese, Chairs, Children & Churches." Your condescension is unappreciated.
March 2, 2017, 12:50 pm
ujh from Downtown Brooklyn says:
As Jim Dwyer said, "This looks like a social welfare project" to benefit the thousands of residents of public housing developments along the projected route. Not for nothing were leaders of tenants associations of two or three of the public housing developments appointed board members of the Friends of the BQX.
March 2, 2017, 2:01 pm
marsha rimler from brooklyn heights says:
Interesting discussion.. Is the BHA betcha..Always has been.. It wanted the library downsized because they were not to happy about those they considered outsiders.. in their area
Is the trolley plan a give away to developers.. You betcha.. the library was a developer give away .. they wanted .. this is a developer give away they do not like much.. Go figure
March 2, 2017, 5:54 pm
Keesha from Boerum Hill says:
The Friends of BQX are going after low income residents for their group to give the appearance of being down with the folks. Developers love setting up fake "Friends" with people of color so they can sell their luxury projects as populist. Unfortunately there are always people of color willing to be sold out. No one loves diversity more than developers...Two Trees, Forest City Ratner, Vornado...
March 2, 2017, 7:56 pm
Roberto from Brooklyn Heights says:
I thought that the panel discussion provided a balanced overview of the issues involved in putting a few billion dollars into a new transportation system that would not likely put a dent into the problems of the overall public transit system and would really be an amenity service for projects backed by high-end developers. The money and effort would be better allocated if it were spent as a surge for more buses for Red Hook and the Queensbridge section of Queens, as well as improved maintenance and additional trains for existing, overburdened subway lines. Did you know that the trolleys would not run on "dedicated" streets, but would instead share the road with other vehicles?
March 2, 2017, 10:16 pm
Honey Baby says:
This would be a model for improving transit all over the city. People who are against it are like people who would have been against building the subway in the first place. It's an initial investment, everything costs the most the first time you build it. Once it's in place there will be options when subway stations are being repaired, ways to connect stations that currently require unusal routes between them (like go one way to Atlantic Avenue then go back in the same direction you came). It's going to so much cheaper than building any new subway (how many billions went into the second avenue subway for the Upper East Side?!). More trolleys can be introduced once the model is in place.
March 3, 2017, 4:49 am
David Weinkrantz from Downtown Brooklyn says:
1) In order to ascertain likely ridership of the BQX, I suggest the establishment of a bus line along the same route. The number of people who rode on the bus line would be an indicator of expected ridership on the BQX.

2) Would this be a Business Improvement District? If so, I believe it would be subject to a vote of the property owners within the BID. Would the BID include only the properties on the route or extend within the neighborhood?
March 3, 2017, 6:10 am
Mike Quill from Queens says:
It's a hipster shuttle-- from their north Brooklyn havens to their artsy jobs in Industry City and BAT.
March 3, 2017, 7:11 am
Honey Baby says:
David Weinkrantz -
A bus would never have the same ridership because they run infrequently and especially if it wasn't guarenteed to be there for a long time people would not make it part of their plans. Having reliable service increases ridership because people won't take cars or taxis or bikes instead of the unrealiable alternative.
Also, being that this is a growing part of Brooklyn, furutre ridership would be greater than present ridership.
March 3, 2017, 8:27 am
Bruce Wimple from Sunset Park says:
Sounds like there's lots of trolley-dolly s here!
March 3, 2017, 8:56 am
Tom from Red Hook says:
If we want to invest public money to enhance in transportation in waterfront neighborhoods we should spend it on increasing ferry transportation. The BQX will run adjacent to the waterfront and will divert riders from the planned Citywide Ferry system and take precious street space away from the public. Ferries travel on federally protected and managed right of ways and will not increase congestion on the city streets.
March 4, 2017, 11:54 am
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
For some of those who seem to really want this tram, they have to understand the causes for the opposition rather than the effects. Just looking at the picture on top alone shows how much of a bad idea it really is. Most of those streets are already packed now, and just imagine how worse it will get if some have to be taken away just to build this. Keep in mind that was what lead to killing of the Vision42 Tram that was planned about a decade ago in midtown Manhattan. Another thing is that grade level rail transit in a densely populated city such as NYC is seen as a safety hazard, which is why much of it was taken away in the beginning of the postwar era due to that, which is why there haven't been any streetcars or trolleys since then. In reality, if there was a way to keep such transit, it wouldn't have been removed or paved over in the first place. At least with a subway, it goes underneath and doesn't result in removing much except for temporary construction purposes.
March 4, 2017, 3:33 pm

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