Trolley idea is derailed

See our editorial.

A Brooklyn man’s dream of restoring the borough’s fabled trolleys looks like it’s being derailed by planners of a waterfront development along the Brooklyn Heights and DUMBO shore.

Arthur Melnick, who has spent a decade as a Quixotic promoter of trolleys as clean and efficient transportation, presented planners with his proposal for a three-line streetcar system linking the so-called Brooklyn Bridge Park to Borough Hall, the BAM cultural district and Red Hook.

Several years ago, park planners said they were open to the idea of historic light rail, but this time, they dodged Melnick’s trolleys.

“There are other things like jitneys” that are being explored, said Jee Mee Kim, one of several consultants hired by the Downtown Brooklyn Waterfront Local Development Corporation to study transit links to the waterfront development.

Others indicated that the closest Melnick might get to his dream would be a mere facsimile.

“We could have a jitney [bus] that looks like a trolley, like they have Downtown,” said Hank Gutman, a DBWLDC board member.

But Melnick isn’t giving up (not that he ever does).

“I know they are not looking to do this now, but they should be,” he said. “Isn’t it about time we addressed the problems of congestion, pollution and excessive fuel consumption?

“Municipalities throughout the nation are expanding their trolley and light-rail systems or building anew. It makes so much sense; why must we take a back seat?”

Even if his Borough Hall-to-Brooklyn Bridge Park loop doesn’t get on track, Melnick vowed to continue pushing his “Green Line” to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden and his “Red Line” from Downtown to the Red Hook waterfront.

Melnick said he has one historic trolley — it’s in Pennsylvania awaiting its return to glory — and has access to a dozen more. All the cars are in the style of those that made Brooklyn famous from the 1930s until the 1950s.

Melnick made his latest pitch at a meeting earlier this month where DBWLDC consultants were discussing a $1-million grant to study how to get people into the proposed park, which will span from the Manhattan Bridge to Atlantic Avenue, but is somewhat cut off from the rest of the borough.

As The Brooklyn Papers reported, planners are studying everything from a tunnel from the Clark Street subway station to Furman Street to an elevator from the fabled Brooklyn Heights Promenade.

— with Ariella Cohen

More from Around New York