Statement that accompanied the submission of petition with 1900 signers to Community Board 2 President John Dew on June 21st 2011 at CB2 Transportation Meeting
I am pleased to present the neighbourhood petition contesting the proposed Putnam Avenue pedestrian plaza. It has been ratified by almost 2,000 signers, not all of whom, of course, live at the corner of Putnam and Grand, but who all take exception to the Mayoral fixations the plaza represents.
It has been easy to attract support on this referendum as it was on that recently saved F&S Tire at 781 Fulton. People instinctively react against authority manipulated to destroy a family business – the tire store: or , on Putnam, to push longtime residents aside. Developers and politicians call this “change.” Residents call it “gentrification.”
We “published” our petition at a townhall meeting held last week in the lovely lingering light at the Putnam triangle. People brought their own chairs. Everyone spoke. The word “gentrification” pupped up right away, and again with “FAB.”
FAB sought approval on the plaza proposal at by-invitation gatherings in brownstone parlors this spring. The people at the triangle last week don’t live in brownstones. They ride the B26 bus.
The B62 was Topic No.1. For forty years it stopped on Putnam between Downing and Grand. Not anymore. The MTA didn’t tell anyone: They just left the riders waiting as always for the bus – that suddenly blew on by.
Many elderly depend on this Putnam stop. Why was it cut? For a Putnam plaza.
A plaza won’t take us to work or to a doctor’s appointment, won’t take the kids to school.
Last week as we talked, we watched a series of B26’s come down Putnam, yank \sharpLEFT at Grand, then /sharpRIGHT on Fulton, swinging wide both times because the buses are too big for the turns. Fire trucks won’t be able to roar down Putnam anymore: They’ll have to lurch behind the buses \LEFT/RIGHT at 50mph.
No one asked us if we wanted a pedestrian plaza. 1,900 names say we don’t. DOT said they would withdraw it in the face of local opposition.
Thank you for receiving our expression of citizen dismay at the condescensions of a third term Mayor. He doesn’t live here, we do. He doesn’t ride the B26 bus, we do.
Our petition says his priorities are all wrong: He thinks a million trees are more important than 20 fire house; 500 miles of bike lanes than 200 libraries; 65 pedestrian plazas than 6,000 teachers.
On May 10, FAB and DOT hosted a “public meeting” about the plaza, which was treated as a fait accompli even though this was the first most residents were directly hearing of it. Questions were not welcome and few were taken (under pressure from the floor) before moving on to the centerpiece “community ideas” session: Would you like to paint peace signs on the bunkers? Sow bok choy in the planters? Polka dancing Tuesdays?
We have a better idea – simple, cost effective: Leave Putnam alone!
Thank you Again – Happy Summer to all!