Falls prompt tough call: Locals may have to forfeit street parking to fix dangerous Windsor Terrace sidewalk

Problem pathway: Locals may have to sacrifice street parking in order for the city to pay to repave a dangerous brick Prospect Park West sidewalk, a Department of Transportation honcho said on Tuesday.
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To walk, or to park: that is the question.

Owners of property along a stretch of Prospect Park West may have to sacrifice street parking in order to repair a treacherous brick sidewalk that locals continue to stumble and injure themselves on, according to a leader of the Department of Transportation.

The agency’s borough commissioner Keith Bray announced the Sophie’s Choice to a crowd of residents and business owners during a public meeting on Tuesday, claiming that in order for the city to fund repaving the dangerous walkway that runs from Bartel Pritchard Square to 18th Street, any project would have to include traffic-safety improvements in the form of sidewalk extensions that would gobble up parking and narrow the roadway near intersections — a compromise that some locals called a no-brainer.

“For the good of the community, if it’s between a parking space or a person being crippled or killed by a hard fall, I would vote to give up parking spaces,” said Don Kent, who owns a building on Windsor Place a few doors down from Prospect Park West. “Which is more important: a parking space or someone’s life?”

Workers installed the brick sidewalk in 1987 and residents strolled it without issue for about a decade, said area property-owner Scott Nagel, who served as the head of the Prospect Park West Merchants Association when the masonry was first laid.

The path eventually fell into disrepair, but proved far more difficult to maintain than its concrete counterparts, according to the local, who estimated he spends an average of $200 per year repairing the bricks outside his building — as opposed to an average of $400 per decade that he guessed he would pay for upkeep of concrete.

Another Prospect Park West property owner, Maureen Pynn, claimed fixing masonry that was dislodged by a tree root outside her lot cost her $3,000 last year alone.

And even with regular maintenance, the sidewalk’s bricks remain a constant hazard to pedestrians — especially seniors — many of whom suffered nasty falls over the years, according to Kent, who said his 75-year-old neighbor got five stitches after taking a spill and that he met a younger man who broke his knee tripping over a loose block.

But not all locals welcomed Bray’s solution requiring the installation of sidewalk extensions known as bump-outs, and Nagel said he’d rather get a group of fellow property owners to fund repaving the walkway, or find another fix that doesn’t sacrifice parking.

“It’s a great idea to ask the city for money, but I think that the bump-outs are probably a very bad idea,” he said. “I’d be happy to chip in 50–50 to fix the whole thing. If I put in $1500 and the city ponies up the difference, I’d be happier than getting bump-outs.”

And Pynn said that if officials restrict the number of extensions per block to one or two, residents might be more amenable to installing them.

“We’d probably want the bare minimum, because parking is such a big issue,” she said. “Why would we give up two spaces when you can give up half a space.”

Bray couldn’t say how many bump-outs would be necessary or how large they’d have to be in order for the city to fund a sidewalk makeover.

The meeting’s organizer, Assemblyman Robert Carroll (D–Park Slope), promised to arrange more sessions to discuss the issue, at which transit agency reps would be expected to present a more specific thoroughfare-refurbishment plan.

But any proposal that calls for cutting parking will likely divide the community, according to Nagel, who said residents will have to come to a consensus before the city ponies up any dough to fix the sidewalk.

“This process is going to drag on,” he said. “You’re going to have a strong group that doesn’t want to spend any money, regardless of the parking consequences. And there will be others who want to have more control over their destiny, and will pay to have it done.”

Reach reporter Colin Mixson at or by calling (718) 260-4505.
Updated 5:52 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Resident from Brooklyn says:
Keeping people safe as they walk around our neighborhood is more important than a handful of parking spaces. What is wrong with people?
Dec. 1, 2017, 9:55 am
Tyler from pps says:
Are these idiot business-owners and residents really freaking out about the loss of a few parking spaces?? (In exchange for repaired sidewalks and increased safety for pedestrians -- i.e., the VAST MAJORITY of their customers)

And did this Nagel gentleman actually refer to opposing the sidewalk bump-outs as having "more control over their destiny"??! Jesus give me strength.
Dec. 1, 2017, 12:11 pm
Jonathan Swift from Literarture says:
A modest proposal for solving both problems, sidewalk and bumpouts. Simply kill the old people that live there. More parking, and less falling on the pavers. Win win, no?
Dec. 1, 2017, 1 pm
Neighbor from Brooklyn says:
Can some of these people hear themselves? Why don't we just kill off all these old people, with them falling on the sidewalks all the time, and getting hit by drivers because they don't hurry enough when crossing the street. Come on, seniors, why can't you just jump over the sidewalk cracks & run across the street? (sarcasm)

Seriously, neighbors, please remember how unkind this city can be to the elderly. We'll all be seniors someday and may well lose the ability to handle such outdoor obstacles at any age. Please, let's stop putting parking above the safety and quality of life of the most vulnerable among us. It boggles the mind that this is even a question. If you live in a city, especially one as dense as ours, you don't simply have a right to park your private car wherever you want; sorry.
Dec. 1, 2017, 1:28 pm
Kit from Bay Ridge says:
Seriously? Did Keith Bray really call this a "Sophie's Choice", equating choosing between fixing a sidewalk or saving a few parking spaces with choosing between which of your two children's lives to save if you can only save one?!?
Dec. 1, 2017, 1:47 pm
Guest from NYC says:
The city should just go ahead and repair the sidewalk and install the bulb outs because that is what is best for the vast majority of residents.
Dec. 1, 2017, 5:17 pm
Adrian from Ridgewood says:
If someone parks their car and trips on the sidewalk when heading to one of the businesses, they would still be harmed by the broken sidewalk. The sidewalk must get fixed for all the residents. It's a win for everyone even though a few people will have to look harder for a parking spot or just give up driving.
Dec. 1, 2017, 7:53 pm
Andy from Kensington says:
Wow, must be nice to have $1500 to throw at a sidewalk. I'm over here saving up money to buy my kid a new pair of shoes. SMH
Dec. 2, 2017, 7:33 am
ty from pps says:
and include a bike rack.
Dec. 2, 2017, 2:09 pm
Stacey from windsor terrace... says:
actually, the best solution would just be to get rid of the brick sidewalks... and use plain ole cement. BUT- the city won't approve or pay for this unless the the DOT does a study and puts in the bumpouts... .... Many of the store/property owners would probably prefer to pay to do their own sidewalks asap, then wait 3-5 years for the city to get its act together, and take weeks to do the repairs......But-
1- the city won't allow it... and
2- it could prove dangerous if some repave and others do not and keep the bricks...
Dec. 2, 2017, 2:43 pm
TOM from Sunset Park says:
The Parks Department has a fund to repair sidewalks that have been damaged by tree roots. I applied some years back and Parks came out to survey it. I got their report which said there was not enough damage to warrant any payment. A couple of months later I received a violation on "my sidewalk damage" and it cost me $2,000.

You can always try again just don't expect any help.

BTW: Eliminating curb-side parking spots even those which generate revenues for the City with metered parking(thousands of dollars per spot each year) will only result in more double-parked customer cars and delivery trucks, and interfere with commerce but the DOT staff get to go home at five.
Dec. 2, 2017, 5:52 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Tom, trying to make the claim to fix the sidewalk without eliminating curbside parking will never win the support of those anti-car fanatics. If you look over at Streetsblog and Transportation Alternatives, they will like anything that gives us motorists the royal screw job. Trying to explain your idea to them has as much of a chance as the Muslim Brotherhood has to recognizing Israel as a Jewish state.
Dec. 3, 2017, 4:42 pm
Tyler from pps says:
Loading zones work for deliveries. Ticketing double-parking works for everyone else.
Dec. 4, 2017, 10:17 am
AMH says:
I can only hope that the mention of Sophie's Choice was ironic. Equating parking spaces with human life is insulting.
Dec. 4, 2017, 12:15 pm
James from Kensington says:
Government is the problem, not the solution. The sidewalks could be fixed withOUT sacrificing the spots.
Oh, except the government has to have ITS say...
Dec. 4, 2017, 9:18 pm
NN from Boerum Hill says:
I think sidewalk extensions on PPW are a good idea. They create more space to walk and make it safer to cross the street.
Dec. 5, 2017, 12:27 pm
Lillian from Prospect Heights says:
Looks like Transportation Alternatives is in solid control of dimwit Keith Bray. TA sets up false equivalencies to take our cars so there can be more bikes. Looks like TA fanatics have supplied most of the comnents here. They're always hysterical. They've shifted from blaming moving cars for killing old people to parked cars killing them. A number of old people have been hit by bikers but in those cases the old people were in the way and deserved to be hit. That should teach them. Have to hand it to TA and patsy Commish Bray for claiming the only way to fix a sidewalk is to take away parking. What next? The only way to save lives is to turn all the streets into greenways? They tried to do that last year to Clinton Ave in Clinton Hill. The DOTA announced the greenway as a "done deal" only the neighborhood rose up in fury. The neighborhood won.
Dec. 6, 2017, 8:45 am
LK from Fort Greene says:
The solution is easy. Remove the effected area of bricks and create a wide tree pit so the roots don't raise the sidewalk. It is a very wide sidewalk with room for a generous tree pit. The bump out doesn't remove the trip hazard or the fact that tree roots pull up sidewalk as the city trees get larger and larger. There is no reason to remove parking or for people to trip. For some reason TA trolls prefer for cars to circle around and around to find a parking place creating more car time on the road, more left hand and right hand turns and more air pollution rather than get to a parking space and get their car off the road. The illogic is appalling.
Dec. 6, 2017, 9:52 am
David Weinkrantz from Downtown Brooklyn says:
My understanding is that the owner of the adjacent land is responsible for the repair of the sidewalk.

What law or otherwise requires the creation of a bump-out if the adjacent sidewalk is repaired or replaced?

Where is the evidence that bump-outs provide a useful benefit?
Dec. 8, 2017, 10:36 am

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