By Mary Frost
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The DUMBO Improvement District (BID) wants to close a two-block long street just north of the Manhattan Bridge to traffic and turn it into a pedestrian plaza. But not everyone is on board with the Anchorage Place proposal, and a hearing on the plan will be held Wednesday evening from 6:30-7:30 p.m. at the DUMBO Loft, 155 Water St.
Anchorage Place runs between Plymouth and Pearl streets, next to the newly painted Pearl Street Triangle. The DUMBO BID says closing the street would enhance pedestrian safety by connecting the Pearl Street Triangle to the Manhattan Bridge Archway.
“It will also allow the DUMBO Improvement District to increase programming in the plaza spaces by offering a larger area for public seating and for staging of events and art,” the group said in a statement.
If approved, new signs and temporary barriers such as movable planters would be installed at either end of Anchorage Place.
“It would be nice to have a pedestrian plaza, though parking may be an issue,” said Carrie Bracco, eating lunch with Marc Weisman in the Pearl Street Triangle on Tuesday.
“But we just work here, we don’t drive,” they added.
“I’m all for it,” said Rich Sporer, a dog walker living in Carroll Gardens who says he gets “lots of business” in DUMBO. “There’s not a lot of traffic here, and it doesn’t justify two streets.”
The proposal to make Anchorage Place a “Restricted Use Street” received the endorsement of Community Board 2, and eight retail businesses along Pearl Street and Anchorage Place have signed letters of support.
But Doreen Gallo, Executive Director of the DUMBO Neighborhood Alliance, said that closing the street would have a negative effect on the entire neighborhood.
“People can't imagine this space and how this should be the Grand North Entrance to Brooklyn Bridge Park,” she told the Brooklyn Eagle on Tuesday. “The advocation of the closure is premature. The spaces cease to be open.”
There are better ways to make Anchorage Place safer for pedestrians, she said. “If the sidewalks were walkable on both sides of the street and were not misused by DOT on one side and the BID board member/ owner of 155 Water-140 Plymouth Street [on the other], Anchorage Place wouldn’t have to be shut to traffic.”
Gallo said that both sides of the Triangle were peppered with illegal curb-cuts and garage activities. “People have to walk in the street already! They don't have to decorate it without more DOT signage, barriers and planters. What is bad about open space?”
Several workers in the area expressed concerns about losing parking along Anchorage Place. DUMBO BID said in its statement that 24 parking spaces would be lost, but “the NYCDOT Borough Engineer will modify existing parking regulations to create approximately 20-30 new parking spaces in the neighborhood.”
A commenter on the DumboNYC blog hoped the plan would eliminate “all the leftover junk on the sidewalk/street from their [the garage’s] welding … the nasty grease everywhere, the broken down dumpsters laying out there.” The plan would not affect the Pearl Street garage site, however.
One pedestrian, hurrying to her dog walking job near the Pearl Street Triangle, commented, “Everything’s a friggin’ controversy.”