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Front Page October 27, 2011  RSS feed

Two Bushwick M Train Stops To Close In 2012

Repairs To Begin In Jan., CB 4 Learns
by Sam Goldman

Architect David Foell tells Brooklyn Community Board 4 of the proposed renovations to the Knickerbocker Avenue and Central Avenue stations at its Oct. 19 meeting in Bushwick. 
(photo: Sam Goldman) Architect David Foell tells Brooklyn Community Board 4 of the proposed renovations to the Knickerbocker Avenue and Central Avenue stations at its Oct. 19 meeting in Bushwick. (photo: Sam Goldman) The long-awaited revamp of two Bushwick train stations will come at the price of their temporary closure, Brooklyn Community Board 4 learned at its Wednesday, Oct. 19 meeting at the Hope Gardens Senior Center.

Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) Assistant Director of Government and Community Relations John Inglesby and architect David Foell went over their plan to rehabilitate the Knickerbocker Avenue and Central Avenue M train stations.

“I think you already know the seaby sons” why the stations are being revamped, said Foell, speaking to their “really miserable condition.“ According to Foell, the agency ranks the stations as among the system’s most decrepit

Currently, rain seeps through the stations’ mezzanine roofs, guard rails have rusted, and wooden steps and doors have rotted away at both locations.

“The mezzanines will be completely demolished” at both sites, Foell stated, and new street stairs, platform stairs and wind screens will be installed, as will one additional turnstile. The layout of both stations will remain the same.

“Your whole experience will be in a new environment,” he told the crowd.

However, since the mezzanines will not be able to accept riders during the renovation, the stations will have to close to facilitate the work.

According to Foell, Knickerbocker Avenue will close first, in the late spring of 2012, and will be shut down for three to five months. Once work at Knickerbocker Avenue is completed, work at Central Avenue will begin.

To accommodate riders, the MTA will increase of the frequency of the B54 bus line between midnight and 5 a.m. weekly to three buses per hour (the same frequency as the M train runs during those hours). However, Inglesby stated his agency’s position that the level of existing B54 service during the day will be sufficient to handle additional riders.

Inglesby assured them that MTA employees will be stationed along the line “from day one, from hour one” to determine if additional service will be required, and will add buses if necessary.

Several Board 4 members, including Martha Brown (who chaired the meeting in the absence of Julie Dent), doubted the agency’s prediction, noting the large amount of commuters and students who look to head to the Myrtle Avenue/Wyckoff Avenue train hub.

Inglesby responded that ”we certainly hear those concerns,” but that the MTA has historically taken a wait-and-see approach to service needs.

In response to questions from board members, Inglesby noted that neither station will have handicap accessibility added during the renovation (“we don’t have the budget,” he stated) and that both stations will feature local artwork as part of the agency’s Arts For Transit program.

The MTA also pledged to work in conjunction with the city Department of Transportation, who is planning a pedestrian plaza below the Knickerbocker Avenue station.

“This is something coming to fruition for us,” noted Board 4 District Manager Nadine Whitted. “We don’t want to suffer through it but sometimes we have to take the good with the bad.”

Lawmaker’s report

State Sen. Martin Malave Dilan went over a hot topic of debate in Albany: the upcoming redistricting of the state.

He explained that every Senate district in the state will need to “shed approximately 32,000 individuals.” A new law covering the representation of those residing in upstate prisons, as well as the federal Voting Rights Act of 1965, will be factored into the redistricting process.

He hoped residents would participate as much as possible in the process so that “we keep communities of interest together and we keep communities together.”

He also promised to continue monitoring the MTA’s construction project to ensure that the additional bus service is adequate.

Whitted reports

In her district manager’s report, Whitted noted that the Department of Transportation has offered to repave Bushwick Avenue from Woodbine Street to Eastern Parkway (possibly along with some adjoining streets) in the summer of next year during the daytime hours.

“To sweeten the pot,” she added, the DOT could begin repaving the portion of Bushwick Avenue from Eastern Parkway to Cooper Avenue later this year.

Board 4 later voted to endorse this plan.

She also noted that a meeting with the postmaster of the U.S. Postal Ser- vice’s Bushwick office revealed that the “serious changes” are coming to mail service, with next-day mail in jeopardy due to budget cuts.

At Whitted’s urging, Board 4 also passed a resolution stating its opposition to “alcopops”—sweetened alcoholic beverages—and its support of legislation to curb their sale, especially to minors.

Finally, Whitted stated that due to the possible layoff of as many as Parks Department workers citywide, she had begun a “park steward initiative” to find “highly motivated individuals” to volunteer at four parks in the area.

Her goal was to find 15 volunteers for each park to help clean the grounds; volunteers for Irving Square Park have already been found.

Brown, who also chairs Board 4’s Land Use Committee, noted that a recent meeting was held with urban planning students at the Pratt Institute regarding “contextual zoning issues” in the area. At the meeting, the group examined the development of housing in Williamsburg and Long Island City.

The Land Use Committee will continue to review and “do research as far as our community is concerned,” said Brown, in order “to lay plans for the future of Bushwick.”

Later in the meeting, Evelyn Cruz, representing Rep. Nydia Velasquez, noted that the lawmaker had opposed the recent rezonings of Greenpoint and Williamsburg, and added that the many of the amenities promised in the rezonings have yet to be built over five years later.

“The community is now asking the city, where is the promised affordable housing?” she asked. “Where are the promised parks? It’s a big issue.”

Board 4 usually meets on the third Wednesday of each month at the Hope Gardens Senior Center, located at 195 Linden St.in Bushwick.