Sunset Parkers: Plan to stick parks on Fourth Ave. medians is a few sandwiches short of a picnic

Sunset Parkers: Plan to stick parks on Fourth Ave. medians is a few sandwiches short of a picnic
Photo by Jordan Rathkopf

This idea stinks — literally!

The city’s plan to make-over Fourth Avenue medians with pedestrian benches and green space is a waste of money because few locals will hang out there inhaling fumes from passing traffic, say Sunset Parkers.

“Why would you want to sit there? It’s like sitting in your garage with your motor on,” said Renee Giordano.

And anyone who does brave the effluvium to picnic in the tiny mid-traffic parks could be taking their life in their hands, they say, as the thoroughfare is notoriously dangerous.

In 2014, there were 200 collisions on the street between 17th and 65th streets — the parts of the avenue in Sunset Park — 31 more than the previous year, and more than twice as many as the year before that, according to police data.

“I know some families here might go have lunch out on the benches there, but God forbid a kid steps off the curb — that’s it,” said Third Avenue resident John Murphy.

But the Department of Transportation refused to respond to the residents’ traffic and air quality concerns.

The department plans to raise medians — first in Sunset Park, and eventually through Park Slope — to two feet above the roadway and widen them by four feet on either side into to the yellow-striped buffer zone the installed in late 2012.

It intends to plant trees and other vegetation in the wider and taller medians and install benches at some intersections. The department will be in charge of maintenance and has put aside money to thwart subway-riding rats from creeping up from the subway line beneath the street, according to an agency spokesman.

The city expects to complete final designs for the avenue between Eighth and 18th streets and 33rd and 52nd streets by this fall and to begin construction next spring. After that, the city hopes to roll out the plan all the way from Atlantic Avenue to 65th Street.

Giordano admitted that Fourth Avenue could use a new look, but said the city should rethink its approach if traffic stays the way it is there.

“Sure we would love to have something beautiful here, but you see how the traffic is — it’s not conducive to that,” said Giordano. “I wonder if any of them have stood — let alone sat — on the median to see what it would be like to sit in the middle there.”

Reach reporter Dennis Lynch at (718) 260–2508 or e-mail him at dlynch@cnglocal.com.