Saturday, December 13, 2008
Letter to the Editor - Downtown Express - Chafing at Chatham
To The Editor:
The Dept. of Transportation’s response to the Dec. 2nd Chatham Square reconfiguration hearing (news article, Dec. 5 –11, “Defying the shouts, city says full speed on Chatham Square”) was a sham. The plan that the city proposes to implement is deeply flawed. It is deceptively alluring when they present the plan as a $50 million traffic improvement that would increase pedestrian safety and add greenery.
If they truly wish to green, bring it on! We’ve been asking for trees since the last Chatham Square reconstruction in l999. In reality the improvements are not based on pedestrian safety studies as one traffic engineer admitted at the hearing. One example is t he loss of a crosswalk at the corner of St. James and Oliver St. Many children currently cross there to go to P.S. 1 and St. James School. Forcing school children to cross two streets at a greater distance does not increase pedestrian safety.
Bus traffic would be forced to make additional and difficult turns to Park Row and to Worth St. from a narrowed Bowery, and they would cross two traffic lights, instead of the current one. Making Park Row single-laned, restricts emergency vehicles, compromises safety and its use as an escape route in a true Lower Manhattan catastrophe. The implementation of this expensive elephant ostensibly to improve traffic will destroy the fragile economy at a major intersection that links the city’s east/west/north/south.
Most troubling is Mayor Bloomberg’s handling of the entire Chatham Square reconfiguration plan that attempted, but failed, to pit community groups against each other while bulldozing across Chinatown. Here as in neighborhoods throughout this city from the communities at Washington Square Park, Union Square and Yankee Stadium -- we have all fought the reconfiguration or takeover of public spaces without true community input. From the rezoning struggles impacting poor and minority neighborhoods in Chinatown, Harlem, Willets Point, Red Hook and the Atlantic Yards — the fake veneer of community participation has been painted on by Mayor Bloomberg’s heavy, sometimes hidden hand — not seen since the days of Robert Moses.
Civic Center Residents Coalition