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LIVE BLOGGING: Meeting Tonight on Proposed Fowler Square Plaza

Patch's coverage of Thursday's contentious gathering on planned pedestrian area.

7:40 p.m.: And that's a wrap for Patch's coverage of tonight's workshop. Thanks for sticking with us and stay tuned for more coverage on the Fowler Pedestrian Plaza issue. 

7:39 p.m.: A little bit more on the break-out table format of tonight’s meeting: Turns out it was rolled out at last June’s information sessions on the pedestrian plaza application. And it seems to be working—that is, if the goal of DOT and FAB is to get people to accept the pedestrian plaza as a fact. At each of the five tables set up, a diagram of the proposed Fowler Pedestrian Plaza is provided, along with markers so that participants can add features like bollards, planters, tables and chairs.

What’s missing from those tables, critics of the plan might notice, are erasers.

This plaza is happening, folks.

7:07 p.m.: A visit to one of the break out session tables revealed unanimous support for the proposed plaza. All three participants, Steven Matt of Fulton and St. Felix streets, Hari Khalsa of Ashland Place and Fulton Street and Dominik Eckenstein of Washington Avenue said they were for the plaza.

7 p.m.: Anger has begun to boil over with the DOT reps at the meeting refusing to allow residents to read statements on the proposal. Instead, the organizers of the meeting are trying to lead the meeting into separate "break out" sessions.

6:59 p.m.: There has been mixed reaction from businesses in regards to the plaza, according to Kellogg. Concerns include loading and unloading and other late night activity.

"We didn’t submit it without having the support of the key players," he said.

6:55 p.m.: In response to a question, flexible bollards will allow emergency vehicles to access S. Elliott Place, according to DOT.

6:49 p.m.: A resident of S. Portland Avenue asks a really good question: Who was General Fowler?

Fort Greene resident Ruth Goldstein has the answer: Fowler was a breveted, or honorary, general that got men to muster in Fort Greene Park in the run-up to the Civil War. The men, called the “red legged devils” for the socks they wore, later fought at Gettysburg. Fowler, she said, spent the rest of his days “taking care of his boys.”

6:45 p.m.: After temporary installation this summer, DOT will take add traffic and pedestrian counts and do a time-lapse analysis. The agency will then report back to Community Board 2 in the fall.

The presentation has ended. Now the public comments section of the meeting will commence.

6:40 p.m.: DOT notes that like the Putnam Pedestrian Plaza, a fire hydrant exists in the middle of the block of the proposed closed section of S. Elliott in front of The Smoke Joint. According to DOT, there is adequate access on Lafayette and Fulton for fire trucks.

Also, FAB Alliance made a commitment to pick up trash, clear the plaza of snow and water plants, among other maintenance tasks.

6:30 p.m.: The DOT presentation on the plaza has begun. One of the main points so far seems to be: The impacts on traffic in the area upon the closure of S. Elliott to vehicular traffic will be minor, and perhaps may even be beneficial for cars and trucks traveling along Lafayette Avenue without the option of making turns on S. Elliott.

According to the DOT, only 98 cars on average travel along S. Elliott between Lafayette Avenue and Fulton Street per peak traffic hour. During that same period, 398 pedestrian on average use the corridor.

6:23 p.m.: Letitia James, D-Brooklyn, reiterated her support for the Fowler Square pedestrian plaza, evoking the installation of another plaza in Clinton Hill:

"With the success of Putnam [Pedestrian Plaza], I can see how pedestrian plazas can bridge divides and bring the community together," James said.

James called the proposed pedestrian area a "summer plaza."

"I trust that with some time and use that the benefits will become clear to all of us," she said.

6:15 p.m.: Chris Hrones of the city Department of Transportation just kicked off the meeting explaining the history of the proposed pedestrian plaza at Fowler Square, which began two years ago with an application submitted by Fulton Area Business Alliance.

6:02 p.m.: With the room beginning to fill here in a meeting room at Lafayette Presbyterian (which by the way, is located at 86 S. Oxford St., around the corner from Lafayette Avenue), we spoke very briefly with Phillip Kellogg, manager of Fulton Area Business Alliance, about what he hoped to gain from tonight's meeting.

"First and foremost, it's about getting the facts out there regarding real traffic data that DOT has already collected," Kellogg said.

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At various points called a "workshop" or an "informational meeting," tonight's event at Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church promises to give a cross-section of community attitudes to the city's latest pedestrian plaza experiment—this time at Fowler Square, in the heart of Fort Greene.

Stay with us as we give blow-by-blow coverage of the meeting, which is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m.

Jim February 23, 2012 at 08:57 PM
Arthur has let the cat out of the bag! His 85 year-old mother "has lived in this neighborhood for over 30 years in favor of this project." How come his mom knew about the project since the 1980s and the rest of us just found out about it last year? (By the way, Arthur, you say it's "more than insulting" to suggest she walk 1 or 2 blocks to Fort Greene Park. Do you mean Fort Greene has been an insulting place to live all these years without a plaza on S. Elliott St?
Arthur February 24, 2012 at 03:05 PM
Jim, it was a typo. She's lived in the neighborhood for over 30 years and, when she found out about the plan for the plaza this past year, was in favor of it. When you are 85 and use a walker or a wheelchair or have difficultly getting around, I hope you take kindly to people who tell you to just walk a block or two somewhere else. Fort Greene is a wonderful place and my mother has loved it for decades. It can continue to be an even more wonderful place and I'm so glad there are people who are working to make that happen.
Brooklyn Sandy February 24, 2012 at 04:18 PM
Arthur, and all the rest who are "insulted" by a wish (from 75 year olds who have lived here for over 25 years!) to maintain our own quality of life... would demonstrate their lack of hypocrisy by admitting the unfairness of their contention that they are the only ones by dint of their age to enjoy a quality of life issue at the expense of others. The invitation to walk another block proposal is at least an alternate choice...however, when one cannot move one's bed a block or two...when one is awakened by Frank's exiting drunks urinating, throwing bottles, raging in loud groups at 4AM like clockwork, as well as during late night hours,...with NO recourse (see Kellogg's quote above) it is a red herring to throw out age and longevity to preempt others' age and longevity. It is about profiteers who are "using" the community fractiousness in furtherance of their goals...85 year olds or teenyboppers could avail themselves of a restored BAM-fronting park which should be the recipient of DOT investment with consideration for all ages and all "walkers". In an ideal world a plaza with considerate visitors would be perched on each and every block where an 85 year old resides...until that happens this 75 year old needs the same opportunities to a "kindly" healthful residency & quality of life that has been described above. Finally, I will not cede the reduced accessibility for emergency vehicles as a result of the closure... also a lifeline issue for the elderly!
Brooklyn Sandy February 26, 2012 at 07:14 PM
From "Former Middletown Resident" with whose comments I concur...but I did NOT SEE posted on this blog...only by a Patch email alert of 2/25/12.at 7:25 PM. I'm taking the liberty of copying and pasting his salient remarks "for the record" as follows: ""Remember last summer when Habana had to hire at least 3 private security guards per night and charge every male $10 to enter to deter people who just wanted to harass women and not buy anything? These same folks would then sit on their Suzuki motorcycles outfitted with xenon lights and modified noise-making mufflers and just rev the engines... Does anyone remember that? That is going to be Fowler Square X 10. A BYOB party where you can drink, smoke, rev your engines which you will be able to have alongside or even in the square, and harass women just trying to get home. Thanks, DOT. Can I have your home numbers to call you at 3 A.M. when I get harassed?"
Tammy February 27, 2012 at 01:30 AM
Steven, the Potemkin analogy fits. The happy village DOT has on display is in the slide show, staged scenes of frolicking people and tables of tweaked statistics all set out to prove how great the plaza will be. DOT's mission is to put as many plazas in as many streets as possible. If what they really wanted is bring more green space, they would open up the BAM triangle that has been let go to waste for years. They're uninterested in it, an actual planted green space, because it doesn't involve the elimination of a street. If you don't believe me, check out the DOT site under plazas. Your liking the plaza on S. Eliott is gravy to DOT but means no more to them than if you didn't like it, or if no one did.

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