Capacity Crowd Brews Up Plans for Willamsburg/Greenpoint Greenway
Close to 100 people - mostly Greenpoint and Williamsburg residents - crammed the Brooklyn Brewery's tasting room Thursday evening
The evening featured an interesting presentation from the NYC DOT's Ryan Russo, who explained that the DOT is under a mandate from the Bloomberg administration to add 200 miles of marked bike lanes in the next two years: the first 40 miles to be completed by next month, and the remaining 160 miles by June 2009. Douglass Adams, from planning consultant Sam Schwartz PLLC, served up some basic guidelines for potential street realignments along West Street and Kent Avenue that would allow the addition of bike lanes along that north-south corridor. And tasty sandwiches were served.
But the real meat & potatoes of the evening was the breakout groups, where each of about 10 tables - each seated with randomly-mixed residents and one or two facilitators - discussed issues ranging from "connections to bridges" to "the Greenway in large parks", in an attempt to gather concrete recommendations for a build-out plan for the Greenway. Following the hour-long charette, each table reported their recommendations and showed sketches and maps as visual support.
The suggestions were varied, but the enthusiasm was common. Most of the bike-lane recommendations fell into one of two camps:
A. Provide fast, straight, and protected bike lanes along Kent Avenue and West Street, allowing for a safe, efficient commute. The big issue here being how to protect cyclists from traffic crossing the two streets, particularly the anticipated traffic entering and exiting the new high-rise residential developments.
B. Focus all Greenway development on the water's edge, building an uninterrupted and safe bicycle and pedestrian route with glorious views and safely removed from automobile traffic.
While the idealist side of us loves option b for the long-term, the jilted, upstate pragmatist in us senses that option A - free of the inevitable eminent domain, right-of-way, and water's edge construction issues and undoubtedly cheaper - is the one that's likely to be funded and constructed in our lifetime. The water's edge promenade is a terrific goal, and one that's already in the works via the developers' incentives contained in the 2005 rezone.
But given that the current riverfront contains a power plant, fuel oil tank farms, the Domino Sugar complex, and dozens of operating businesses, putting all of our eggs in that basket strikes us as likely to postpone breakfast for years to come.
In either case, the session was a rare upbeat public meeting, and we're glad we were able to participate. BTW, the Greenway Initiative has a wonderful (and nearly indestructible) Greenway Map, as well as a spiral-bound Greenway Guide available free of charge.
Details on the Greenway [brooklyngreenway.org]