Medgar Evers Green Space Controversy, Residents upset over proposed street closure to make campus quad
About a hundred Crown Heights residents last week rejected a proposal to turn Crown Street into a quad for Medgar Evers College.
The forum, held at the Full Gospel Assembly Church, brought out a vocal crowd as well as local elected officials.
The plan that college officials are flouting would see the closure of Crown Street between Franklin and Bedford Avenues to vehicular traffic, and the block would be turned into a giant greenspace between campus buildings.
“The first time I heard about this new proposal was just a couple of months ago,” said Montgomery Block Association President Demetrius Lawrence, who moderated the forum and was against the plan.
In a joint letter written by the Crown and Montgomery Street Block Associations, one of the main concerns was the loss of parking spaces, which they say is already a major problem in the area. The letter also expresses concern that the closure will mean an increase of traffic during the morning rush hour on side streets.
“The current traffic patterns, combined with the large volume of cars and trucks using Crown Street to access Washington Avenue and the lack of sufficient parking, makes this idea one that is fraught with disregard for the needs of the community,” the letter stated.Residents also questioned who would provide security and maintenance when the school wasn’t in session.
Local resident Yvonne Reid suggested the “green quad” be built on one of the parking lots that are not in use.
School spokesperson Gbubemi Okotieuro countered that a study on the project was done 15 years ago and Crown Street residents supported the street closing and the project. He also said there was a traffic study completed at that time that showed Crown Street was not a high-density traffic roadway.
But Okotieuro could not provide copies of the study. A Community Board 9 representative said the study will be available on the community board Web site shortly.
At press time, the study was not on the Web site.
City Council member Letitia James said that Medgar Evers cannot just close the street. To demap the street, it would have to go through several government channels known as the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP), and if approved the closure would be permanent, she said “I have not seen the studies myself,” said James, adding that the president of Medgar Evers should have been here.
“ I think there can be a counter proposal that doesn’t disturb the flow of traffic,” Said James. At the end of the meeting Lawrence asked for a show of hands of how many people supported the project and not one arm was raised.