PLAZA: The Fight For Putnam Plaza Short Film Complete

FACT is happy to announce the December 1, 2011 release of “PLAZA, The Fight for Putnam Triangle.”

A couple of years ago the Fulton Area Business Alliance (FAB) and the Department of Transportation (DOT) decided between them to make Putnam Avenue into a pedestrian plaza and claim they were doing so by community demand.

Not! In a now famous petition, the community asked DOT to stop and think seriously about lavishing thousands of scarce public dollars for so frivolous a purpose. The petition attracted 1,900 signers.  Merchants and residents on and near the targeted block of Putnam submitted letters asking DOT to take its hand-me-down schematic back to the drawing board and try to come up with a concept that relates to their stores and the neighborhood, that doesn’t take away a working street, stranding them in empty space.

FAB solicited support at a series of exclusive, by-invitation-only gatherings in Clinton Hill parlors.  Brownstone owners obliged by writing letters in favor of the plaza.

FAB and DOT shut down everyone else:  Neither one acknowledged the petition, the merchants’ and neighbors’ letters, phone calls or emails.

FACT, on the other hand, relishes debate and welcomes different ideas.  FACT loves to ask questions – to get answers!  We asked more than forty residents what they think about the plaza.

FACT hopes you find what they say and how they say it lively and insightful as we do.

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5 Responses to PLAZA: The Fight For Putnam Plaza Short Film Complete

  1. Cary says:

    I too, object to the plaza. It really is creating an uncomfortable snarl at this intersection. Not to mention the ridiculous turns that the bus has to make. I was almost hit today while crossing the street on foot, because I forgot that the traffic and pedestrian lights are still not in sync. Just minutes before, I witnessed the head of Fab out instructing the lowly paid Fab workers to put some lights in the trees and seemed in a hurry to spruce up the plaza, the timing seemed suspicious as your new film was just released. (Which is really great and very entertaining- it echoes all of my sentiments). I wish that these kind of changes could be more transparent and require voting by the residents.

    As a motorist who lives on Downing Street, I avoid driving to Grand and taking a left (as the lights are long and out of sync). I drive to the end of Downing to make a right or left onto Fulton, but I can’t see oncoming traffic because of the parked cars. So now I take a left on Putnam and still can’t see oncoming traffic, to avoid Fulton altogether.

    The bar on Grand and Fulton already has its’ own seating and if there was a need for public seating, why could they not transform the triangle instead of putting it in the street.
    Also, no insult to the existing businesses there, but how will the plaza enhance the t-shirt shop and the bars that open at night after the plaza is closed, or the hair salon, or finer dining restaurants with their own seating? That leaves the bodegas, Yummo! Also why open this project as we head into fall and winter. At the very least , could it just be a summer thing? It will be unusable for at least six months out of the year. Perhaps we can dump our excess snow there if we have a winter similar to last year, and god forbid those bus turns in the snow and ice!

    Thanks Fact, for your efforts.

  2. John Kabuki says:

    I disagree with Cary. I live in the neighborhood and enjoy the space. I see children play there and neighborhood residents sit and play chess when the tables and chairs are out.

    I’ve seen this video that is really over the top. If it were unbiased they would actually show all the people who use it everyday, even when there are no tables/chairs when it’s cold outside. Why is FACT so opposed to quality of life improvements for neighborhood residents? I take that bus sometimes and although the turn isn’t ideal, it works and I’m glad the bus was moved so that we can enjoy this nice bit of open space. Thank you FAB. Thank you DOT.

  3. MMM says:

    I have lived here for 10 years and there have been at least 3 shootings on that corner. I believe that the plaza actually improves public safety by turning this former parking lot into a neighborhood space where people are looking out. On a nice day the chairs and tables get a lot of use. There is no other public space nearby. I think it is actually safer for some people to get to the bus stop now since there are fewer streets to cross. Not to mention that when you wait, there is actually a place to sit down.

    • Dear MMM,
      Thank you for your personal and thoughtful comments. It is true that the Putnam/Grand corner has seen a number of incidents, but even the upper west side, for example, has been the scene of crazy criminal capers. There are plenty of public spaces nearby, specifically the Putnam Triangle itself, which FACT demonstrated to FAB and DOT is plenty large enough for a couple dozen sets of tables and chairs — with enough space left over for a public WC and a bus shelter. There now is a shelter,and, as of a week ago, permanent seating, which (inadvertently?) sets up the frivolousness of wiping out a working city block. We’re showing our little movie, “PLAZA” tomorrow at 7pm at 1016 Fulton St. We hope you will be able to attend and can join in the Q&A after. Cheers!

  4. Junie Tamer says:

    FAB really does seem hapless and scattershot. It has had no obvious affect on Fulton Street. A lot of stores are out of business and all FAB thinks to do is string cheap quality Christmas lights. Why they had to take a block away for seating doesn’t make a lot of sense. Why can’t FAB take a clue from the BID on Myrtle? They have put simple benches around the tree pits, adding an amenity, and no streets were killed in the making of the seating. The benches stretch up and down the street, so just about any block you can plop down. The glut of tables and chairs on the Putnam plaza should make FAB embarrassed, there are so few takers on any day. Now there aren’t any tables and chairs! They’ve been stashed somewhere for the winter. A cou[ple of weeks ago FAB put in permanent benches on the triangle. So how to they justify knocking out the street? They’ve just weakened their argument, and, no doubt, the fight will go on.

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