Friday, April 18, 2008

CLOSING the Second Place Subway Entrance

When the 360 smith street project (now known as Oliver House,131 Second Place/)

project was first introduced,one of the many issues that came up was the confusion and the inconvenience posed by the proposed closing of the second place subway entrance---after all, by the MTA's own published statistics, there are approximately nine thousand (9000) riders using the Carroll Street station on a daily basis! The following letter, written by a Carroll Gardens resident, intelligently expresses the thoughts and concerns of so many members of the community. CORD

Anthony Marchese 41 Second Street Brooklyn, NY 11231

Hon. Bill DeBlasio

2907 Fort Hamilton Parkway Brooklyn, NY 11218

FAX: 718854-1146

Re: 360 Smith Street, "Oliver House"

April 14, 2008

Dear Councilman DeBlasio,

As I understand it, the subway entrance from the Second Place Plaza is to be closed for 8 months while building construction goes on over the entrance.

During this time people who use the subway will be expected to use the stair on the southwest comer of Second and Smith Streets. This stairway is narrow, only 5 feet wide, and descends 18 steps from street level to an 8 foot wide corridor. The corridor extends 40 feet to another stairway, this stair is 13 feet wide(a decent width) with a divider rail in the center and descends 6 steps to the lower mezzanine level. At this level where there is now only a high exit turnstile, I have been led to understand that 2 new High Exit/Entry Turnstiles (HEET) will be installed. People can enter here to access the Manhattan bound platform, or they could also use the turnstiles on the upper mezzanine level where the Token Booth and the Fare Card vending machines are located.

Based on the high volume of passengers who presently take the train at morning rush hour and can now descend from the Second Place Plaza using a generously wide (14 foot wide) stairway it is not hard to imagine that a 5 foot wide stairway would be totally overwhelmed. People would be waiting in long lines creeping towards the turnstiles, the line would probably stretch up to the street. If any of the HEET wheels were to malfunction, as sometimes happens, it could result in crowding and pushing that could cause people serious harm- MT A should prepare themselves for a lot of lawsuits. Also, as there is only space enough for 3 devices here, and it is not clear if the existing high exit turnstile is to remain or be replaced with an emergency exit swing gate-like the one opposite the token booth.

Furthermore, nowhere in the preceding scenario was there any consideration for passengers arriving at the station and wanting to exit, people who work in the neighborhood or students attending one of the many schools. Add these people to the equation and you have the potential for serious and hazardous overcrowding.

Now, imagine the evening rush hour, people streaming off the platform funneled into a long and narrow passageway leading to an even narrower uncovered stair, a stair open to the sky, the rain, the snow, the ice, hazardous for able bodied people under normal circumstances, disastrous for seniors, people with small children and strollers, class groups from any number of the local schools.

I believe the entrance can and should be kept open. Construction can take place in stages with partial shut downs. It was done at Atlantic Avenue, it is being done at the Broadway Nassau street station for construction of the Transit Center. Obviously it will cost more and may slow down the project, but having people crushed in a stampede is not an option.

NYC Transit knows how many people use this entrance and they have guidelines for how many people can be safely accommodated on stairs and in passageways. They have a division dedicated to Safety, let's hear from them. The community should know exactly what is planned. We should be hearing from New York City Transit's office of Government and Community Relations ..

We have a right to know what is being done. This project cannot be allowed to endanger lives in this community. It is already enough to frustrate and inconvenience the whole neighborhood and surrounding community with construction noises, dirt, sidewalk closings and traffic diversions. If there is really no alternative to closing the subway entrance for 8 months then the project should be redesigned or the Plaza property acquired by the City by Eminent Domain and removed from the building footprint.

Sincerely, Anthony Marchese

Cc: Ms. Joan L. Millman, Assemblywoman 341 Smith Street, Brooklyn, NY 11231
Mr. Craig Hammermann, District Manager CB#6 districtmanager@brooklyncb6.
Mr. Andrew Inglesby, Assistant Director, Government & Community Relations New York City Transit, SoBNA


With the "Protect Our Homes" petition, CORD was formed in May, 2007. This petition arose as an overwhelmingly negative response to the coming of the over-sized 360 Smith Street Development at the corner of Smith Street and Second Place (Aka Oliver House; aka 131 Second Place). This petition, which had well over three thousand signatures, led to a new zoning text amendment in summer of 2008.

To: Our Elected Officials, Community Leaders, The MTA:
(MAY, 2007)

We the undersigned Carroll Gardens homeowners and residents, are appalled by the "as of right" ruling which allows owners and developers to erect buildings in our neighborhood with no regard to the impact they will present to our quality of life and the value of our homes........