The Department of Transportation (DOT), Department of Department of Design and Construction (DDC) and the Fulton Area Business (FAB) Alliance met last Wednesday with community members at the Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church, located at 85 S. Oxford St., as part of an ongoing collaborative effort to redesign the space.
Emily Weidenhof, Public Spaces project manager for DOT, said that while the space is owned by the agency, community involvement is a crucial part to providing a fully functional design.
“We’re here to bring a temporary materials plaza into a more substantial, permanently designed public space,” Weidenhof said.
She explained that a high volume of pedestrians, nearly 400 during peak hours, and a low number of cars, roughly 95 parked around the same time, is the reason why DOT focused on the square, which is actually a triangle between Lafayette Avenue, Fulton Street and South Elliott Place.
“It’s also full of a lot of businesses, so there are a lot of people walking around, eating and shopping,” Weidenhof noted.
Phillip Kellogg, manager of the FAB Alliance, said that aside from the subway tunnels underneath the park and some budgeting constraints surrounding the project, the possibilities are endless.
He looked at the forum as a necessary component to the design process.
“What’s really exciting is that it’s a blank slate,” Kellogg said. “The community needs and wants opportunities like this to provide their input.”
While it has been three years since the FAB Alliance introduced the Fulton Street Vision Plan to the neighborhood, Kellogg said there has been overwhelming feedback and focus from the neighborhood.
“It will be a real opportunity for a community-based project,” he said. “It already has the support of a ton of residents and almost unanimous support of the businesses.”
Laura Marquez, an assistant principal at Brooklyn Tech High School, came out to represent her school and the students who regularly frequent the square before and after class.
“The school is a large part of the Forte Greene community,” Marquez said. “Overall, we like the idea of updating the square, and the consensus of the community, and for us, is that’s a good thing.”
Marquez said that as students often hang around the square to study or eat with friends after school hours, she hopes there will be regulations to keep them out of trouble.
“If students are studying after school, sometimes they stay in school, and if it’s a nice day, they may go out to the square,” she said. “When the sun goes down it’s time for them to go home.”
Velez Moore, a resident of Fort Greene Place, often frequents the triangle and says she wants more benches along the sidewalk and additional, smaller umbrellas for the tables.
“There are more tables than there are umbrellas, so when it’s sunny there’s not a whole lot of protection there,” Moore said.
She did not agree with DOT’s proposal to extend the sidewalk on the Lafayette Avenue side of the space, as she says delivery trucks often park in the area. Additionally, Moore said she is also opposed to permanent seating.
“I was against that from the beginning because it attracts undesirables,” Moore said.