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Critics and Proponents Of Putnam Pedestrian Plaza Clash At Meeting

Councilwoman Letitia James responds to concerns, calls outdoor space a "success."

Neighborhood activist Schielle Hagan isn't giving up.

Hagan and her group, Fulton Area Coming Together, held a meeting Thursday in Clinton Hill with Councilwoman Letitia James, D-Brooklyn, to vent their frustration against the .

"I'm not against plazas, just this plaza," Hagan said. "This is a no-man's land right here. I don't think it would ever go... where every square inch has a really high value on it. There is so much waste there... I don't know where all of these people are going to come to sit at those tables."

James meanwhile strongly reiterated her support for a project that has been generally well received by the public.

"I live not too far away from the pedestrian plaza and I witness each and every day individuals sitting there having coffee, engaging in conversation, senior citizens playing chess, kids doing homework," James said. "However there have been issues regarding the process, and there have been issues regarding the bus."

James pledged to work with the city Department of Transportation to reinstate bus stops on the B26 at Putnam and Grand and the B25 on Fulton Street in front of .

That promise seemed unlikely to quell FACT's opposition to the plaza and the Business Improvement District behind it, Fulton Area Business Alliance, which Hagan accused of pushing through the project with little to no public input.

However, not all of the 30 or so attendees at Thursday’s meeting at New Paradise Baptist Church Hall on Fulton Street spoke in opposition to the outdoor plaza.

Clinton Hill residents Lauren Gumbs and Marie-Cecile Jones lauded the inclusion of a new pedestrian-only public space and its positive impact on foot traffic in the area.

"If a lot of people are hanging out playing chess or doing their homework, the deli will be selling more beverages or snacks or whatever," Jones said. "It may be a learning curve, but at the end of the day it might bring more business to this neighborhood."

In rebuttal, Hagan echoed a recent New York Post Op-Ed that pedestrian plazas have harmed businesses—in this case, along Times Square—and hinted at what may be an even bigger fight to come. 

"At least this is a 'temporary' pedestrian plaza, as opposed to the one that they are trying to put in down at Fowler Triangle," she said.

Joseph October 21, 2011 at 04:05 PM
At the Putnam Plaza party we found out that Hagan had paid some people $20 to support her fight. I wonder if she paid people to come out to this event, too.
zinka October 21, 2011 at 05:22 PM
Hagan lied when she said "I'm not against plazas, just this plaza". Earlier this year, she circulated petitions against ALL pedestrian plazas. She's clearly on the fringes.
Schellie Hagan October 23, 2011 at 09:06 PM
Joseph, please, please, please we really need to meet and exchange contact information. Yours is second hand and wrong. Do you and Lonnie share inaccurate stories to post? I don't pay people to support my activities. I pay people to support themselves. I am glad to be able to hire people looking for work to distribute flyers. It's a time-consuming and valuable service and deserves a good recompense. And, no, all those who came to the Thursday town hall did so out of community dedication. FYI, I made a donation to the church for the use of its lovely meeting hall. Mike, I would love to see the petition that says I am "against All pedestrian plazas." We circulated a petition that questioned the use of scarce tax dollars for so "fringy" a purpose as a pedestrian plaza. I wrote that petition. It attracted 1,900 signers.

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