Saturday, May 15, 2010

Behind “Vision Plan for the Fourth Avenue Corridor,” a "community-based process," including concerns about Atlantic Yards

Remember how a Department of City Planning official admitted that the city had had no interest in developing the Vanderbilt Yard, and that Atlantic Yards was a developer-driven project?

Well, now Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz (the biggest booster of AY) has spearheaded a "community-based process" to help figure out how to improve the major artery of Fourth Avenue, which, at its northern end, nearly reaches the Atlantic Terminal mall and the Atlantic Yards arena site.

In fact, the report (embedded below) issued yesterday recommends improvements in open space on the south side of Flatbush Avenue very near the arena site. The source of funding for this and other improvements, such as landscaping, is unclear.

Yes, a plan for a main artery like Fourth Avenue is not the same as a plan for an arena plus housing, but the contrast in process remains striking.

The press release

The press release from the office of the Borough President, headlined FOURTH AVENUE “BROOKLYN BOULEVARD” VISION PLAN RELEASED BY BROOKLYN BP AND NYU URBAN PLANNING CAPSTONE STUDENTS:
On Friday, May 14, Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz released “Vision for the Fourth Avenue Corridor,” a collaborative effort with urban planning students from New York University’s Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service (NYU Wagner) to begin the process of initiating a community-driven transformation of Brooklyn’s Fourth Avenue into “Brooklyn Boulevard,” a signature street worthy of the great communities that surround it. The vision plan proposes an active street for residents, economic opportunities for local businesses and exhibit spaces for the artist community. These goals will be achieved through traffic-calming measures, streetscaping, placemaking and wayfinding improvements, and community partnerships.

“This report introduces some of the possibilities for making Fourth Avenue a great boulevard,” said Brooklyn Borough President's Office. “It includes illustrations and recommendations for potential treatments but is by no means a finalized streetscape plan. My intention for this report, as with all the work conducted on my behalf by the NYU Wagner students this past year, is to use it to contribute fresh ideas to the conversation on what to do, if anything, about Fourth Avenue’s future. The completion of these students’ work constitutes only one small initial step in what will prove to be a much larger process. It remains my goal to see that all efforts to transform Fourth Avenue reflect and receive guidance from the vision of all members of the local community.”
A planning process

The report states [typos elided]:
In the fall of 2009, the Office of the Brooklyn Borough President... decided to work with... New York University Urban Planning Capstone students to develop a vision for Fourth Avenue. The selected team, Spark Fourth Avenue, assisted in guiding a community-based process that focused on meetings with stakeholders, meetings with government and non-profit subject matter experts, a comparison of domestic and international projects, and a critical analysis of design theory.
Here's previous coverage of some of the community-based process, in which the top-down planning process for Atlantic Yards came in for a lot more criticism than is in the more politic report issued yesterday.

Some excerpts regarding Atlantic Yards

Changes are needed in response to the arena:
The Atlantic Yards Arena will also increase traffic, density, and commercial activity on Fourth Avenue. Future planning for the corridor should take this into consideration.

1.10 Improve Public Transportation Service & Stations
The BMT line is almost a century old and is in need of repairs. Updating the stations with a better appearance of the stations will improve the experience of residents and visitors. Public transit stations are important on Fourth Avenue because of the large number of users. The growth of Atlantic Avenue Station and Atlantic Yards necessitates an improvement to the transportation hub.
The intersection of Fourth, Flatbush, and Atlantic

The report states:
Creating a grand entrance and exit from Fourth Avenue is key to transforming the street into a grand livable boulevard. The current triangle intersection at Flatbush Avenue provides an especially challenging entrance to the Avenue for motorists and pedestrians alike. Varying traffic patterns at this location make it confusingand dangerous for its users.

In order to address problems at this intersection as well as use its assets to transform it into a monumental entranceway, Spark Fourth Avenue proposes traffic calming initiatives and adding open space that will increase the safety of the Avenue. This will allow lanes for motorists to thrive and a plaza for pedestrians to enjoy.

The proposal also takes into consideration the increased pedestrian and car traffic that will come from the Atlantic Yards Development.

In the Atlantic Yards Final Environmental Impact Statement, one traffic mitigation scenario involves the rerouting of northbound Fourth Creating a grand entrance and exit from Fourth Avenue is key to transforming the street into a grand livable boulevard.

The current triangle intersection at Flatbush Avenue provides an especially challenging entrance to the Avenue for motorists and pedestrians alike. Varying traffic patterns at this location make it confusing and dangerous for its users.

In order to address problems at this intersection as well as use its assets to transform it into a monumental entranceway, Spark Fourth Avenue proposes traffic calming initiatives and adding open space that will increase the safety of the Avenue. This will allow lanes for motorists to thrive and a plaza for pedestrians to enjoy. The proposal also takes into consideration the increased pedestrian and car traffic that will come from the Atlantic Yards Development.

In the Atlantic Yards Final Environmental Impact Statement, one traffic mitigation scenario involves the involves the rerouting of northbound Fourth Avenue traffic heading towards Flatbush Avenue to Pacific Street. Pacific Street will resemble a “jug handle” for traffic traveling northbound. The plan below illustrates how this scenario could result in increased public space as well as a possible site for a grand entranceway to Atlantic Terminal. The Times Plaza Control House once served as the main entrance to the Atlantic Avenue Terminal. Our traffic mitigation plan will help create a safer public space so that this prominent landmark can once again be reopened. Pedestrian safety at this plaza is of paramount importance. This scenario will require a detailed traffic analysis study to assess whether the changes will in fact improve or reduce traffic safety in the area.

Increased public space around the Flatbush/Fourth Avenue intersection will help the Avenue capitalize on increased pedestrian traffic coming from the Atlantic Yards Development.

The median on Fourth Avenue, between Pacific Street and Atlantic Avenue, should also be landscaped. There are no subway vents on this median. Accordingly, tree panting and pedestrian refuges are possible. The plaza space at Times Square will be increased, which will enable game tables and concessions. In congruence, a dedicated and modern entrance to Atlantic Terminal should be constructed.

These changes can begin to be implemented immediately through temporary street changes such as bollards, signage, and paint bearing the Brooklyn Boulevard brand.

4th Ave Corridor Vision Report for Brooklyn Borough President

1 comment:

  1. That two-step, 4th Avenue-to-Pacific Street-to-northbound-Flatbush kluge is going to make the (notorious) intersection of 8th Avenue and Union Street look like a Montana horse pasture by comparison.

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