Foes of a Car-Free Trial in Prospect Park Demand Environmental Review
In another case of 1970s-era environmental law being turned on its head, Brooklyn Community Boards 7 and 14 are demanding that the city conduct an environmental review before implementing a proposed, three month car-free trial in Prospect Park next summer. At a press event this morning attended by 19 people near the Park Circle entrance to the park, Assemblyman Jim Brennan joined CB7 chair Randy Peers and CB14 chair Alvin Berk, calling for an Environmental Impact
Statement to study the matter.
A car-free park "could have a major environmental impact," said Brennan, who co-signed a letter with the CB chairs asking DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan for the EIS. Similar use of environmental regulations have postponed the development of San Francisco's bike lane network for three years.
In the midst of calling for the environmental impact study, typically a lengthy and expensive process, Peers made clear that he had already reached his own conclusion. "Closing the park to traffic is unacceptable even for a trial period," he said.
The Car-Free Prospect Park Campaign is a decades-long volunteer advocacy effort led by Transportation Alternatives, a member-driven organization with a strong base of support in the neighborhoods around Prospect Park. Two weeks ago, youth advocates delivered 10,001 signatures to City Hall in support of a car-free park. During the summer of 2002 a volunteer effort organized by T.A. produced approximately 15,000 signatures, a 400-person town hall meeting and the support of all five Council members with districts abutting the park. Subsequent expansions of car-free hours in Prospect Park have repeatedly failed to validate dire predictions of traffic cataclysm outside the park.
Nevertheless, Peers finds these community organizing efforts despicable. "We abhor the tactics of the bicycle advocacy group," he said. "They tried the same tactics when they tried to shove Residential Parking Permits down our throats. They're a well-financed advocacy group representing a minority view."
Assemblyman Jim Brennan can be reached here:
416 Seventh Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11215
brennaj [at] assembly.state.ny.us
Photo: Randy Peers (with green sheet), flanked by Assemblyman Jim Brennan (beige suit) and Alvin Berk (bearded).