Seeing Myrtle Avenue With Fresh Eyes
The folks over at the Myrtle Avenue Brooklyn Partnership have unveiled the results of a collaboration with the Project for Public Spaces (PPS) undertaken over the last couple of years. Two public workshops were held to get community input on the plans, which address four different areas of Myrtle Avenue, one of the main commercial streets for Fort Greene and Clinton Hill.
The days when Myrtle was known as "Murder Avenue" are long past. Thriving shops and restaurants line much of the street, in part thanks to the efforts of the Myrtle Avenue Revitalization Project and the Myrtle Avenue Brooklyn Business Improvement District (constituent members of the Myrtle Avenue Brooklyn Partnership). But many areas remain where the street's potential is going unrealized, and that's what the collaboration with PPS was meant to address. "We were looking at streetscape conditions," says Vaidila Kungys, the partnership's program manager for planning and economic development. "There's a lot of clutter, crowded sidewalks and problematic intersections."
There are also huge swaths of underused or poorly used space, including the area between Carlton and Ashland, which borders Fort Greene Park and the Walt Whitman Houses, and the portion from Hall Street to Emerson Place, which fronts on a superblock. Because of a four-block service road in this section, seven lanes devoted to vehicles separate one side of the street from the other. Pratt's freshly revealed plans for the site at 524 Myrtle could be a catalyst for improvements here.
The report shows how a service road next to a superblock marginalizes pedestrians
Michael Blaise Backer, executive director of the Myrtle Avenue Brooklyn Partnership, is optimistic about the group's chances for implementing at least some of the recommendations that come out of the study before too much time passes. Some solutions, like the ones proposed for the intersection of Clinton Avenue and Myrtle (sketches above), are relatively simple, and Myrtle Avenue Brooklyn Partnership's solid track record with community leaders, business owners and politicians will certainly make a difference. "We've got all the stakeholders involved," says Backer. He notes as well that the current leadership at DOT is likely to be receptive to this sort of "livable streets" improvement.
We'll keep an eye on it.