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Update: Residents Decry Plans to Make Fowler Pedestrian Plaza Permanent

Small group of locals say more study is necessary to see if imminent opening of Barclays Center will clog public space.

The city Department of Transportation is poised to make changes to a stretch of S. Elliott Place between Fulton Street and Lafayette Avenue that would make  a permanent fixture in the heart of Fort Greene.

In response, a small group of residents sent a letter on Monday to Councilman Letitia James, D-Fort Greene, calling on her to help delay the sealing of the small stretch of street.

"There is no reason why there should be a rush to judgment in finalizing Fowler Square Plaza…and every reason to forestall its permanency until objective and residential based opinions are factored in once Barclay [sic] Center is in full swing," the letter, signed by five local residents, read.

The signatories to the letter, including South Portland Block Association president Peter Vitakis and S. Oxford St. Block Association president Abby Weisman, asked James to secure another six-month extension to study the effect  would have on Fowler Square.

James could not be immediately reached for comment regarding the contents of the letter.

According to DOT, work to permanently seal off the plaza will not take place until Community Board 2 votes in the affirmative at a meeting this winter.

So far, response to the plaza from residents, business owners and visitors has been generally positive.

In other pedestrian plaza news,  recently got some much needed shade in the form of large blue umbrellas— courtesy of Fulton Area Business Alliance.

Update, 8:32 p.m.: We're including the full text of the letter sent Monday to Councilwoman Letitia James, D-Fort Greene:

8/27/12

Council Member Letitia James
67 Hanson Place
Brooklyn, Ny 11217

Re: Request for postponement of finalizing Fowler Square Plaza

Dear Council Member James,

Because the 6 month trial period observation by the DOT to finalize Fowler Square as a permanent pedestrian plaza is coming to an end, I’m respectfully asking you to lend your good offices to our plight. On behalf of the adjacent South Elliott Place residents as well as many discomfited South Portland, South Oxford, Fulton Street neighbors  (not to mention a vociferously protesting Brooklyn Tech) who are impacted on contiguous blocks, we ask for a delay of at least 6 months to evaluate the impact of the 18,000 plus Barclay attendees in the immediate weeks ahead. The reality of their car traffic…the evidence of the social networking which will encourage many of them onto our community (i.e. Habana Outpost Block Party)…into our streets… the business engineered welcome with its proliferation of FAB Alliance/BAM entertainment events…all must be measured with no favoritism nor pre-emptive dismissiveness.

There is no reason why there should be a rush to judgment in finalizing Fowler Square Plaza…and every reason to forestall its permanency
until objective and residential based opinions are factored in once Barclay Center is in full swing. .

Urgency is required as there have been surveyors on Fowler Square in several of the last few days…presumably on behalf of the DOT’s plans to make this a fait accompli. Your speaking out for a postponement on our behalf is vital, important and greatly appreciated.

Many thanks and kindest regards,

Sandy and Jay Reiburn…South Elliott Place 22 year residents
Abby Weissman…President-South Oxford St Block Association
Peter Vitakis…President-South Portland Block Association
Roslyn Huebener…Board Member Fort Greene Assn …27 year resident
Joe Napoli…FGA Member …41 year South Elliott Place resident
Jayson August 29, 2012 at 02:09 AM
Ah the wonders of Fowler Plaza.....the tables and chairs not under the umbrellas are moved to the sidewalk and on the cobblestones so people crossing from Fulton to Lafayette have to walk on the cobblestones if they do not want to disturb the patrons of the plaza.....and the wonderful DOUBLE dose of carbon monoxide which may make the food taste better(?), but will certainly help to kill us..... and the amplified music in this tiny plaza in which a singer with a tiny voice and be heard from one end to the other (as can a non-amplified musical instrument) is necessary according to Phillip Kellogg of FAB, because the sound of the buses on both major arteries will drown out the sound of music. Do I hear anyone saying "stop the buses during the concerts"? Restore the street crossing, put tables and chairs under the tree, and if necessary use un-amplified sound. With three parks (all much larger spaces than tiny Fowler Square) to use and BAM to go to, many of the residents of the apartments and houses nearby would hope these venues would suffice for open air dinning and/or music. Let us feed and house the poor before we spend the money on entertainment which most of the restaurants by the way, do not appreciate. Just ask them. Ambidextrous
fredrik anderson August 31, 2012 at 05:41 AM
Love the plaza - a pleasant surprise when walking around - people enjoy the outdoors. Some people just love complaining about things. This plaza is wonderful for the renters in the neighborhood, and is a pleasant place to hang out for the visitors. Everyone on the letter is old time Fort Greene. Not everyone has a million dollar brownstone with a garden on South Portland.
Brooklyn Sandy August 31, 2012 at 06:21 PM
Mr Anderson...this is not about class warfare...it's about apartment renters as well as 'million dollar brownstone" owners using and "enjoying the outdoors" in Ft Greene Park, Cuylor Gore Park, getting the BAM gated park unlocked and usable...and respecting those who are forced to live with FAB/BAM amplified event noise held repeatedly and the impending social networking draw as well as encroachment of Barclay's traffic used to further "business opportunities"& justify FAB's existence. Truly it is not about preventing your enjoyment...it's about sharing this residential community already under attack as "Party Central" and the rather reasonable request to see how Barclay Center's 18,000 attendees impact those who live on top of Fowler Square. As for "old time" Fort Greene...the irrelevance is startling. Should a "new" resident have any more or less right to their quality of life within the privacy of their own apartment than an "old timer" who "loves the plaza"... or vice versa ? Come on...let's play it fair. People "enjoy the outdoors" and have at all the places already open for recreation... but do consider that people do not enjoy being forced to be an audience at an adjacent "Stage" when they wish to sleep, to come home from a hard day's work, to be infirm, or to be bombarded while putting one's kids to bed... Snarky dismissive comments only divide further the prospect of a shared community.
Clara Freeman September 06, 2012 at 12:11 AM
Everything about this project has been based on manipulation: a traffic survey taken at an atypical time, and a community meeting at which there was no space to be literally counted as being in opposition. There has already been disturbance to the immediate neighborhood including Friday evenings with a sound system that could be heard at least a long block away. Why should the neighbors immediately impacted by the square not be given priority attention -- except that there are those so bent on getting their way that they have no concern for their neighbors? Certainly there should be no rush to judgment in finalizing a situation until we see what impact this stadium travesty has on the neighborhood. Why should any honest interests be afraid to allow more time? Let us see how much use the space has in winter. Is it really fair to give a space part time use for half the year rather than let it be used by traffic 24/7 all year? Enough has been said about other parks within two blocks. And how can public money go for this space when areas of Bushwick and Brownsville have no green space? Talk about class warfare, doesn't this seem a bit piggy of what has become a fairly "comfortable" neighborhood?
southelliottseer September 06, 2012 at 02:04 AM
Amen Clara,you got it right!

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