Talk about getting kicked to the curb!
A Dumbo developer snubbed the local community board by extending the sidewalk in front of its Sands Street office complex without bothering to get the panel’s blessing first, say members.
“If they’re going to change the geography of the street, they should have asked us,” said Boerum Hill resident Sidney Meyer at a Community Board 2 transportation committee meeting on Tuesday night.
The committee members were debating the addition of sidewalk seating to the 30-foot sidewalks outside the old Jehovah’s Witnesses building between Adams and Jay streets — which Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner is now turning into a high-end office and retail space called Dumbo Heights — when they realized they didn’t even know there was a 30-foot sidewalk there.
Construction on the sidewalk began in the middle of February and ended about a month ago, according to a security guard at the building. The extra pavement covered up a B69 bus stop — which is now further into the one-lane street — and a “no standing” lane that trucks used for unloading in the Jehovah’s Witnesses days.
Landowners seeking sidewalk extensions do usually have to go through an application process that involves the community advisory panels, the board’s district manager Rob Perris noted later, but the city can also just go ahead and grant the extension without asking.
Still, committee members say, it’s nice to be asked.
“It’s nice that it’s that wide, but someone should have consulted us,” said Doreen Gallo, who runs the Dumbo Neighborhood Alliance.
Reps from Dumbo Heights, the city’s Department of Transportation, and the local business improvement district present for the seating presentation all claimed they had no idea why the community board wasn’t consulted.
The committee members didn’t let the slight affect their vote, however, approving the 40 new seats 7–0 with one abstention.
The al fresco furniture is part of the city’s Street Seats program, which places little wooden plazas sporting planters and benches in seat-starved areas. They usually go over parking spaces, but because the Dumbo Heights sidewalk is now conveniently so spacious, the pop-up patios can fit in there.
Diners at the new booths will get a front-row seat to all the sights and smells of the Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridge on-ramps.
Community boards and their committees don’t actually have any power to stop or approve things like sidewalk extensions, but they offer recommendations that the city may take into consideration.