Contact: Aaron Naparstek

August 8, 2007

aaron [at] naparstek [dot] com

Did City Hall Fugeddabout Prospect Park?

As car-free hours are expanded in Central Park,
Brooklyn groups question why Prospect Park was ignored.

Brooklyn, NY (July 31, 2007) – Today, after New York City’s Dept. of Transportation announced an expansion of car-free hours in Manhattan’s Central Park, Brooklyn community groups are questioning why similar improvements were not offered for Prospect Park. Community groups and elected officials surrounding the park have long advocated for a reduction in car traffic on the Loop Drives in Prospect Park. They contend that City Hall overlooked several clear and easy options to make Prospect Park safer, healthier and more enjoyable for Brooklynites, including:

    • Closure of the northbound East Drive during the evening rush hours, when traffic is minimal.
    • Closing Prospect Park’s 3rd Street entrance to cars to eliminate dangerous conflicts between motor vehicles and the many children and parents who use two popular, nearby playgrounds.
    • Expanding the crowded pedestrian and cyclist lanes on the park drive by eliminating one of the motor vehicle lanes.

“It’s great that the Bloomberg Administration is following through on its Long-Term Planning and Sustainability initiative by reducing motor vehicle traffic in Central Park,” said Aaron Naparstek, campaign coordinator and co-founder of Park Slope Neighbors. “But it’s a shame that the Mayor has left Prospect Park behind. Brooklyn residents also want and deserve a 'Greener, Greater New York.'"

“Prospect Park is Brooklyn’s great natural resource and refuge, said Ken Freeman, president of the Park Slope Civic Council. “Five years ago, the Park Slope Civic Council asked the City to undertake and study a 3-month car-free trial in Prospect Park. We would still like to see that happen.”

"The increase in car-free hours in Central Park is great news. The news would have been better if Prospect Park had been included too," said Robert Witherwax, coordinator of the Grand Army Plaza Coalition (GAPCo). "GAPCo supports creating a more livable, balanced, pedestrian-friendly Grand Army Plaza, and reducing traffic on the Park Drives would help us to achieve that."

“Given the extraordinary amount of development taking place in the neighborhoods surrounding Prospect Park,” said Gib Veconi, president of the Prospect Heights Neighborhood Development Corporation, “the City should work harder to find ways to preserve and enhance the value of the park's open space as a necessary refuge for current and future residents.”

“Brooklyn has less park space per acre than any borough, a fact that has made many in our community realize that we need to maximize the park space we do have,” said Mike Dowd, a member of the Prospect Heights Parents Association. “Making Prospect Park car-free is the simplest way to make Prospect Park safe, healthy and the best for Brooklynites.”

Recommendations made by these neighborhood groups are based on park user surveys that show car traffic is both discouraging and dangerous for users. A recent study found that more than 75% of respondents have had a “close” call with vehicular traffic while walking or bicycling in or to the park, and 60% of respondents felt that accessing Prospect Park during hours in which cars are allowed into the park was “dangerous.” Survey respondents overwhelmingly (4 out of 5) stated that they would use the park more if cars were restricted on the park drive.