Park vs. parking: Plan to expand McCarren isn’t getting a greenlight from drivers

The Brooklyn Paper
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook

Don’t miss our updates:

Would you rather have an open space or a parking space?

That’s the question in North Brooklyn, where the city plans to convert a block-long stretch of Union Avenue into a green space that would link two sections of McCarren Park — despite opposition from drivers who claim bolstering North Brooklyn’s biggest open area isn’t worth removing 34 parking spots.

By “demapping” a single block of roadway between Driggs Avenue and N. 12th Street, the Parks Department would add 33,8000 square feet to the park at the border of Williamsburg and Greenpoint — enough room to fit about seven basketball courts.

“The idea is to add to the open space,” said director of parkland Colleen Alderson.

The plan would connect a small triangular section of McCarren Park — which currently holds dog runs and the weekend farmer’s market — with the rest of the park’s southern end, replacing the roadway with planting beds featuring lush perennials, low-growing shrubs, loading zones for vendors, and subterranean catch basins to improve drainage and prevent standing water.

“We want to proceed with this so that we can add to the resources of the community,” said Alderson.

Alderson said her agency — which announced the plan last year and started the rezoning process this month — studied the roadway and determined that losing the block-long throughway and its 34 parking spaces wouldn’t create a significant hardship for neighborhood residents.

But motorists claim those spots are desperately needed.

“There is no sufficient supply of parking around there,” said Community Board 1 member Lisa Bamonte. “You have to drive around for 45 minutes as it is.”

Bamonte will have a chance to weigh in the plan when it goes before CB1.

Drivers say the Union Avenue stretch is a neighborhood parking utopia because it doesn’t abut any housing, but supporters of the plan — including some drivers — say parkland trumps parking.

“I have a car and I drove here,” said green space user Sam Richardson in an interview inside McCarren Park. “Parkland is a superior use of land, even if it is more inconvenie­nt.”

Reach reporter Danielle Furfaro at or by calling (718) 260-2511. Follow her at
Updated 10:09 pm, July 9, 2018
Today’s news:
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook

Don’t miss our updates:

Reasonable discourse

Eazy D from Sheepshead Bay says:
In this borough, I will take parking. Too many tree huggers. Go take the subway out of Brooklyn!
April 1, 2013, 1:14 am
Rob from Greenpoint says:
Community Board 1 members have shown a woefully ignorant grasp of how parking economics work.

Why can't the the DOT convene an information session on the basics of parking supply/demand?
April 1, 2013, 6:31 am
diehipster from Launching Lances says:
Any idea that involves giving more space to space-wasting mother effing infinite leisure time hipsters is a bad idea.

I know where there is plenty of "green space" - its back home in the Midwest for these people. Get out of Brooklyn already.

After all, there is actually one type of bike lane I would support; a one way lane from Brooklyn to Wisconsin that would have an occasional speeding 18-wheeler crossing it.
April 1, 2013, 7:31 am
Parking!!!!! from Bburg says:
The other commenters are spot on. There is just not enough free parking in Williamsburg. More park space? Impossible. In fact, we should be going the other way and paving over park space to make more free parking. We could also tear down buildings to build even more free parking. Imagine how wonderful Williamsburg would be if there was free parking for everyone, everywhere they went. All our urban problems would be solved!
April 1, 2013, 8:15 am
Dan from Boerum Hill says:
The discussion that needs to be presented is how would this park space be used? Would we just be filling the lane with grass? I've never had such problems finding a place to sit at McCarrens that this would be more valuable use of the land. However, giving this space a function would be worth the change.
April 1, 2013, 8:29 am
Dan from Boerum Hill says:
The discussion that needs to be presented is how would this park space be used? Would we just be filling the lane with grass? I've never had such problems finding a place to sit at McCarrens that this would be more valuable use of the land. However, giving this space a function would be worth the change.
April 1, 2013, 8:29 am
Marie from Willamsburg says:
It is not just about the parking spaces, it is about the road itself. Are you aware of the hundreds of cars and trucks that use the thoroughfare daily to get from Driggs to get to Union and on towards the BQE? Eliminating the stretch just adds dangerous turns to other routes. Trucks making turns kill bicyclists and pedestrians. Why would you create a situation that makes more turns necessary for the traffic flow? We don't need any more intersections where the big trucks can't make turns easily. Khim's Millionaire's Markup will be gridlocked with it many times a day. The parks department and the OSA barely takes care of the parkland it has now. Do they really need more on their plate?
April 1, 2013, 8:34 am
Hank from 11222 says:
Dan, the plan is for it to become a grassy lawn for another cool, outdoor concert space. The Brooklyn Brewery beer will be flowing and the young, transient population dancing in the street. Literally. Enjoy!
April 1, 2013, 8:41 am
Bob from NYC says:
If you drive around for 45 minutes to park your car, the cause of the problem is right behind the steering wheel of your car.
April 1, 2013, 9:16 am
Dave from Park Slope says:
Bob just above nailed it. We don't have a shortage of parking spaces -- we have an oversupply of cars.
April 1, 2013, 9:31 am
D from Bklyn says:
If you serve on the Community Board and think that trying to preserve 34 parking spaces is more important than increasing park space when the majority of your community does not own a car, you're part of the problem.
April 1, 2013, 9:36 am
ty from pps says:
Umm... So removing this 1-block of Union Avenue will make trucks have to *turn* more?

That is the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard. Which truck route is Driggs? Union?

Big trucks aren't supposed to be making this turn to get to the BQE! This will in *no way* hamper local deliveries... and the traffic from local deliveries were already turning on these corners.

This is a heavily trafficked part of the park. Connecting the two pieces would be a great addition. Even if it will magically cause "gridlock" and, even worse, that hipsters are allowed in the park. (Whenever I've been to McCarren, I have always noticed far more non-hipsters than hipsters... I guess you see what you want to see, eh?)
April 1, 2013, 9:40 am
Jim from NYC says:
I like the idea of getting rid of 34 parking spaces. Not just for the additional park space, but because it annoys crabby old timers too.
April 1, 2013, 9:48 am
Bye from Bye bye says:
Time to leave. We've learned all we can here before this thread turns into a pointless and incoherent argument between "Tal" and ty.
April 1, 2013, 10:02 am
Marie from Williamsburg says:
Ty can't grasp basic geometry and math. No surprise. The big trucks are not "supposed" to be there. Duh. Are they? Yes. You could see this with your own eyes, if you came to the park to see it. It is far more comfortable for you to blather on about things you know nothing of. You are so predictable. What were the results of the traffic study? What are the plans for the new design? You don't care as long as it annoys people with cars and pleases the transplants. Again, predictable.
April 1, 2013, 10:10 am
S from Brooklyn says:
And Marie doesn't care about enforcement. If the trucks aren't supposed to be there, closing this street to thru traffic will do the job the NYPD isn't.
April 1, 2013, 10:25 am
ty from pps says:
Hey Marie,

Of course there are trucks there. That doesn't mean it's an immutable fact of nature. Guess what happens when a 'preferred' route becomes less preferred? Behavior changes!

Oh, and I have a car. I'm not annoyed at all.

Just curious... Are all of the non-hipsters (the majority of McCarren Park users) also "transplants"?
April 1, 2013, 10:30 am
Ian from 11206 says:
The solution is clear: on street parking should cost a market rate price. Drivers who pay a fee are allowed to park on the street. The money can then be used for public recreation spaces and the car-less no longer subsidize car owners with free parking.
April 1, 2013, 10:36 am
Billy from Greenpoint says:
> “There is no sufficient supply of parking around there,” said Community Board 1 member Lisa Bamonte. “You have to drive around for 45 minutes as it is.”


You own a car, and you expect copious free parking in our neighborhood? The only way to do that is to RUIN the neighborhood. Go pay for your parking, and pay for the space you take up, Lisa. Someone throw her off the community board.

Time I started going to these meetings, that's just too freaking ridiculous.
April 1, 2013, 10:39 am
ms. nomer from greenpoint says:
The next CB1 meeting is on Tuesday, April 9 at 6:30 p.m. at the Swinging Sixties Senior Center which is at 211 Ainslie in Williamsburg. If you want to speak at the public session (you have 2 minutes to speak on any subject) you MUST SIGN UP IN PERSON by 6:15 p.m., no ifs ands or buts, it's strictly and humorlessly enforced.
April 1, 2013, 10:53 am
ms. nomer from greenpoint says:
Also Billy, you really should go to meetings. There's a huge pro-car & pro-driving faction on the board and some of the most effective members who checked those efforts have stepped down. There's a lot going on at CB1 that doesn't make it into the media, and residents must be there to watchdog the process and make their desires known. Otherwise board members will vote for what benefits them personally.
April 1, 2013, 11:01 am
dave from brooklyn says:
God I love these threads. Where else can you find neo con groups like NAG and OSA pseudnonymously agreeing with the neo fascist agenda of Transportation Alternatives? Ah, the vibrancy of gentrification is palpable.
April 1, 2013, 11:32 am
ty from pps says:
Transportation Alternatives has a "neo fascist agends"? Wow. And to think, I just thought they were looking to improve, err, sustainable transportation alternatives to the automobile as the city continues to grow with millions of new people and roads that are already more than maxed out.

Improved public transportation, safer streets for pedestrians and a bicycle infrastructure are the goals of neo-fascists.... hmm. I didn't realize.
April 1, 2013, 11:57 am
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
If the community board does not want a park running through their neighborhood then I see no reason why it shouldn't be opposed by the people who are against it since that is there right in America to oppose something. Parking is more important, in case you haven't noticed since most people drive to the park how will they get there if they can't leave their cars somewhere safe? But you never think of that because all you want to do is ban cars since you lost congestion pricing. In this case, congestion is good because it keeps people coming to the park and if you haven't noticed that's what helps fund the park is car taxes and things that others don't pay if they walk there. I know you will insult me and make personal attacks on me but that's the truth even if you don't want to read it.
April 1, 2013, 12:12 pm
Grant from South Williamsburg says:
Why do people think it is their RIGHT to have a car and have free parking?

If you want to have a car in NYC, be willing to pay for parking. You think you shouldn't have to pay to leave your belonging outside of your apartment/garage/drive way? Its not my car, it is yours.

I am so glad I got rid of my car in trade for biking to work.
April 1, 2013, 12:22 pm
ms. nomer from greenpoint says:
This proposal originated with community members at least 10 years ago because McCarren Park was a dust bowl from excessive use - the ratio of park space to people was really low (still is). Might have been more than 10 years ago but that's when I first learned about it.
April 1, 2013, 12:39 pm
ms. nomer from greenpoint says:
This proposal originated with community members at least 10 years ago because McCarren Park was a dust bowl from excessive use - the ratio of park space to people was really low (still is). Might have been more than 10 years ago but that's when I first learned about it.
April 1, 2013, 12:39 pm
Mike from Williamsburg says:
27 comments in and the stupidest comment is by far from DieHipster who supports providing free parking for cars so that Brooklyn is less like Wisconsin. smh
April 1, 2013, 1:02 pm
Zim from Brooklyn says:
Why do people think it is their RIGHT to have a bike and have free bike lanes?

If you want to have a bike in NYC, be willing to pay with your life. You think you shouldn't have to pay taxes on, or for the registration and licensing to ride your own transportation on city streets.

I am so glad I got rid of my bike in trade for taking the bus or subway to work like regular New Yorkers do.
April 1, 2013, 2:16 pm
"Interloper" from Kent Ave says:
Let's just bulldoze the co-op where diehipster lives with his grandma and turn that into an organic / sustainable urban rutabaga farm that doubles as a small park.
April 1, 2013, 2:23 pm
Greg from Greenpoint says:
I drive and walk mostly, and am on a bike very occasionally. I have had a few headache moments in seeking parking as well. But I would absolutely love to see this block turned in to parkland. It's a shaded area - which McCarren needs more of - and we'd gain a lot more useable space than just the street itself if some of the fencing around the existing park were removed.

And i think we need to be clear: there is zero use for this block as far as movement of vehicles. Parking, yes. but that's it.
April 1, 2013, 3:12 pm
Die Hipster from Blowing Beardos says:
Actually, my nonna passed years ago. But, shhhhhh, don't let the landlord know. I enjoy my $285/mo. rent.
April 1, 2013, 3:19 pm
ty from pps says:
Nice try, Zim. But you were neither successful nor accurate.
April 1, 2013, 3:20 pm
Kate from 11211 says:
I see (and hear) this street out my window from N12th. I hope they do close that street. In addition to the cars that use it all day and night, there are the big trucks and motorcycles that set off car alarms constantly. Greg's assessment of "zero use" is way off, but who cares. Build more park and let cars find another route. Stop with all the whining.
April 1, 2013, 4:07 pm
you from you says:
"Die Hipster from Blowing Beardos"
-so are you saying you preform oral sex on dudes with beards? cool story bro, i'll start growing one now.
April 1, 2013, 4:22 pm
Claire from 11211 says:
PLEASE green this area already. Anything that takes away parking spots from van loads of BBQing, chicken bone and beer bottle leaving, peeing in public jerks would be welcome. I'm so sick of seeing that junk. Concerts? Even better. They must hate that stuff. Bring it on.
April 1, 2013, 5:03 pm
Pat I. from brooklyn says:
It should definitely be parking. I'm not against open/recreational space. I'm also for parking spaces because of the change in population. When a warehouse that used to employ thirty people gets converted to lofts and is occupied by 150, that's more cars ad more congestion, because unlike the warehouse workers, th residents occupy the are 24/7.

Then throw in the apartments that are occupied by 4 have a parking problem.

It happened in the town where I own property. My building has offstreet parking, but during the real state boom everyone was converting one family homes into duplexes. All of a sudden you have a town where parking went from plentiful to a place where you have to park three blocks from your house.
April 1, 2013, 6:47 pm
S from Brooklyn says:
34 parking spaces are not going to help cure Brooklyn's parking woes. You want parking? Pay for it.

And OH NO! God forbid anyone has to park more than one block from his house! TRAGEDY!
April 1, 2013, 6:51 pm
Pat I. from Brooklyn says:

Not everyone can live the utopian lifestyle. Many need automobiles because of the type of work they do.

And driving around for 45 minutes is not unusual. I recently paid a vist to Carroll Gardens on President's Day. I had to drive around for a good 20 minutes before I found a spot.
April 1, 2013, 6:55 pm
Jimmy from 11211 says:
A vast majority of residents in the immediate area DO NOT own a car. And a vast majority of park users (hipsters and non-hipsters alike!) access the park BY WALKING OR COMING FROM THE SUBWAY. These facts are completely obvious to anyone who lives in this neighborhood, truth.
April 1, 2013, 8:14 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
First off, I wasn't at my computer for much of today, which I was taking my father both to and from work with the Mets home opener in between that. I feel that the real reason why there are those against eliminating the roadway more has to do with how much it will be used. In all honesty, I feel that it's a bad idea to close this road for space that will most likely be used either seasonally or when weather permitting. On such days, many will see that as a waste of space especially when it rains or snows. Pat I, summed it up very well and is right about saying that higher density does lead to more congestion hence the supersaturation effect. As much as some of you hate parking spaces, they are needed whether you like them or not. I really do suggest looking into the causes to why people choose to drive rather than effects, which is what so many here, especially the anti-car crowd, is doing. Seriously, how about using some of the green space you already have before using it to take away any other places? Let's not forget that the Parks Department is hardly even caring about much of the parks that are already around, so I doubt this would be any different.
April 1, 2013, 9:18 pm
ty from pps says:
Tal -
I hope you drove to see the Mets. I wouldn't want to find out that you didn't take advantage of the seasonal parking at the seasonal ballpark.

I'd like to learn more about this "supersaturation effect" and how you know so much about the parks in Brooklyn.

Please, Tal, share your wisdom with us. (By the way, we all knew that comment wasn't the "real" you earlier. It wasn't dumb enough. It was dumb, just not up to the supreme level of ignorance that only the real Tal from Westchester County could achieve.)
April 1, 2013, 10:23 pm
Greg from Greenpoint says:
@kate from 11211: my point is that it's redundant to the pavement on North 12th Street.
April 2, 2013, 3:06 pm
Yeah Yeah from Brooklyn says:
I drive to this area almost daily and never spend 45 minutes looking for free parking, more like 10 at most during the hardest times to find parking (when Alt parking times are at hand). I also never have to use the meters. In fact - Williamsburg is one of the only places I drive to because I always know I will find fast/free easy parking within the area. You just have to look and not be lazy if it's 4-5 blocks from where you are going.
April 2, 2013, 3:47 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
I don't know if it's really called the supersaturation effect, but it does describe what's going on. That word is just the scientific way of referring to what is known as an overflow. In other words, it's putting more what is beyond the maximum capacity of how much can normally be held. Keep in mind that even the subways and buses can't hold that many, and this was before the recent rezoning came in, so allowing to build higher will just make the issue go from bad to worse especially when it's not prepared for it already. Seriously, parking is still a demand, and I feel that it's better that the parking requirements rather stay rather than leave so that way residents don't have to add to the parking problems on the street when they can just do it in their own property. However, I feel the real reasons for the opposition to closing off that roadway has to do with how much it will be used, or the claim that it won't make much of a difference for the park even with it closed, which is probably above the need for parking spaces, so they would rather just leave it as is than change it. On a side note, when I went to yesterday's Mets game, I just parked on one of the local streets after continuing on Roosevelt Avenue after passing the stadium, and parked on 114th Street where 41st Avenue ends at it only walking back towards Roosevelt Avenue and walking about half a mile over there to the entrance, which is what I normally do for Mets games, plus I saved twenty dollars by avoiding their lots and it's a good exercise for me when doing this.
April 2, 2013, 5:47 pm
Daniel from Williamsburg says:
The free market can provide parking. It is not the cities job to provide space for your automobile. As densification continues to increase on all territories adjacent to Manhattan, eventually somebody will build a vertical lot with monthly subscription. Voila!!! Parking! Provided by capitalism! For your private automobile, which is a privilege you pay for and not affordable to all levels of society.

The role of government is to ensure that we preserve some green space for recreation. So more park space is exactly what they should do, to accommodate the increase of residents in the neighborhood, who in turn demand more space.

If governments job was to provide parking, they would pave over that waste of space track for a new megalot because there is inadequate parking in the neighborhood.
April 3, 2013, 12:48 am
Chris from Williamsburg says:
Well I would like the idea of this, but the 1,000 units of apartments that are being built on union ave will conflict with this. Can we get a red light @ n. 11th and union instead? Parking on my block has started to become tough over the last 12 months. Let alone once all these new developements are completed. I love how the city goves the ok on these units, yet does nothing to research the effect.
And before you assume, my grandparents were raised in Greenpoint!
April 4, 2013, 8:43 pm

Comments closed.

First name
Last name
Your neighborhood
Email address
Daytime phone

Your letter must be signed and include all of the information requested above. (Only your name and neighborhood are published with the letter.) Letters should be as brief as possible; while they may discuss any topic of interest to our readers, priority will be given to letters that relate to stories covered by The Brooklyn Paper.

Letters will be edited at the sole discretion of the editor, may be published in whole or part in any media, and upon publication become the property of The Brooklyn Paper. The earlier in the week you send your letter, the better.

Keep it local!

Stay in touch with your community. Subscribe to our free newsletter: