Today’s news:

Kensington’s French kiss off

Brooklyn Daily

Kensington residents are shooting down the city’s plan to turn Church Avenue and Beverly Road into a “Parisian” plaza teeming with benches and trees, claiming that the proposed champs elysees will become a home base for neighborhood hoodlums.

“We don’t need more people hanging out,” resident Janet Halden said as she slammed the changes proposed for the corner, where the city wants to bring three benches, three trees, granite bollards and a bike rack to a large patch of concrete in front of a Walgreens. “People already congregate there and if I see a crowd in front of Walgreens, I won’t go in!”

Some residents say that the city should clean up the corner — which is already falling apart due to a shoddy concrete job — before the city goes ahead with plans envisioned by resident and one-time blogger Jole Carliner, who solicited designs for the intersection from neighborhood architecture firms and prodded the Department of Transportation and Councilman Brad Lander (D–Park Slope) into action.

Carliner hopes the corner will resemble the plazas she remembers as a young woman living in Paris.

“We need to have neighborhood groups screaming bloody murder to do this,” Carliner explained.

Resident Bridget Elder agreed, claiming that benches would be a boon for Church Avenue.

“A bench is a rare thing in Kensington,” she said. “We can make people feel more neighborhoody by having this plaza.”

Yet some believe the neighborhood has enough public seating.

“We already have community spaces,” said Kensington resident Anne Rogan, “We already have a playground and we have Ocean Parkway for miles!”

The city’s proposal doesn’t need to be approved by Community Board 12, since the space the Department of Transportation wants to change is so small, but the Department of Transportation promised that the 66th precinct will increase their presence around the proposed space to prevent it from becoming a hooligan hangout.

Lander said he and the Department of Transportation will solicit more feedback from the community before deciding on what the plaza would look like.

“It’s an idea that people in the community have come up with and would like,” said Lander. “But if the project doesn’t work, it doesn’t have to stay.”

March 9, 1:20 pm. The story was updated to correct an editorial mistake that misidentified the community board mentioned in the piece. The meeting was sponsored by Community Board 12, not Community Board 14.

Reach reporter Eli Rosenberg at erosenberg@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-2531. And follow him at twitter.com/emrosenberg.

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D from Crown Heights says:
I'll bet $10 that the employees of Walgreen's will be relieved if Ms. Halden no longer goes in to their shop. By the way you've quoted her histrionics, I'm sure she's a tough customer to have to deal with.

Also, remember that benches are good for senior citizens because it's hard to walk long distances without having a place to sit for a few minutes.
March 9, 2012, 10:21 am
Maggie from Kensington says:
"The city’s proposal doesn’t need to be approved by Community Board 14", especially because it is in CB 12's district.
Mr. Rosenberg, I was at that meeting as well. You have made it sound as if the majority of Kensington residents don't want this plaza. On the contrary!
Most of us are very excited to have a place to sit and chat with our neighbors. Church Avenue has been neglected for years by both the residents and the merchants. This is a wonderful step in the right direction to reclaim our neighborhood and put some beautification efforts into it so that we will WANT to shop/eat/use the services Church Avenue has to offer.
Kudos to Jole Carliner and Councilmember Lander for all of their hard work. I for one cannot wait to meet friends (and at present, unknown neighbors) down there for a scrabble match and ice cream!
March 9, 2012, 10:30 am
Joe from Crown Heights says:
Love the use of the word "teeming", as if trees and benches will be swarming the sidewalk like a plague. Ooh and the spector of hoodlums using the neighborhood amenity as a reason not to make any improvements. Let's leave things barren and uninviting, god forbid a hoodlum might show up and start "hanging out". There is some truly ridiculous paranoia at work here
March 9, 2012, 11:21 am
Bridget Elder from Kensington, Brooklyn says:
Hi, my name is Bridget Elder, I am one of the Kensington residents quoted in your article. I wanted to add some information that I think is pertinent to this story. The area in question is NOT in the jurisdiction of community board 14, it is in community board 12. The idea of a plaza has been brewing for some time now, and was brought up on numerous occasions at community board 12. A number of Kensington residents, myself included, have bemoaned the lack of green space for some time now. So when Ms. Carliner came up with this brilliant idea, we were very excited. Kensington, encompasses approximately 120 blocks. We have 2 small playgrounds and a little green triangle. Our neighborhood is listed among the neighborhoods which have the least amount of green space. I'm sorry to say, I think this article gives far too much weight to the naysayers. At the meeting, if I remember correctly, there were 3 people who were seriously concerned about the repercussions the possible plaza. One of them wasn't as much opposed to the plaza, as to the idea of creating a plaza before the currently existing issue of graffiti and garbage were tackled. What you fail to mention in your article, is that a stewardship group, that would include myself, garnered 22 volunteers to keep the plaza clean and a number of businesses that would be a resource to ensure that this remains viable.
We are talking about a few benches and a few trees in a small space. It's really not that complicated. As it is now, without the plaza, people "hang out" on the sidewalk, sans benches, and there is litter everywhere. The plaza, with some commitment from resident volunteers, will only make this sad gray stretch, a more attractive place, good for businesses and residents. And yes, it will help us be more neighborly for goodness sake!
March 9, 2012, 11:38 am
Joy from Kensington says:
For the accurate version of what actually happened at the public meeting, see Brad Lander's notes, posted on the KARMABrooklyn blog on March 8th. http://karmabrooklyn.blogspot.com/2012/03/notes-from-meeting-about-kensington.html
March 9, 2012, 1:53 pm
moses slater from kensington says:
i think its a wonderfl idea. people can have their lnch whilst sitting out there, it could be a nice relaxing spot.
March 9, 2012, 6:22 pm
Jasmina from Kensington says:
Agreed on all counts, but I'd like to note that D from Crown Heights has a very important point. We have a HUGE elderly population and no benches for brief breaks. This plaza is on the way to two essential places - Astoria Bank and the Post Office.
March 10, 2012, 9:41 am
Meghan from Kensington says:
Yes to the plaza! And yes to efforts to clean up the trash strewn sidewalks. There's nothing wrong with us having a spot to congregate. Maybe people will take more pride in the neighbourhood. I'm one that would be happy to offer to maintain the space if I could (but living abroad currently).
March 21, 2012, 9:16 am
joan from kensington says:
I agree with this article. The benches have brought nothing but trouble. They have invited all sorts of groups of people. Smoking, drinking, talking loud. Basically disturbing the peace. Not only that but this is a political move and a cover for what they really want. These people are there for all the wrong reasons. Today they disguised themselves as having a christmas carolling thing when it was a rally. And Mr. Brad Landers was a big part of it. And he made sure of it. He is using the plaza to hold meetings and rallys for his own personal gain. He is a fraud. And he should be ashamed of himself. I'm a resident and I have never witnessed anything like this in my life.
Dec. 16, 2012, 2:49 am
Joy from Kensington says:
The Christmas and Hanukkah sing-along was delightful. Some of our neighbors have unusually good singing voices! The event was sponsored by several businesses that are on the same street as the plaza--Denny's Pub, Fox Driving Auto School, TDS Insurance, Hair Pleasure, and To B Thai--and by New McDonald Fruit, right across the street from the plaza.

The sing-along ended earlier than planned. Our City Councilmember, Brad Lander, had to move his event to the plaza--a vigil for the people who died in a fire in a factory in Bangladesh. Many of the people who had gone to the plaza for the singing joined the vigil.

The commander of our police precinct spoke at a neighborhood meeting in November about how pleased he is with the conduct of the people using the plaza.
March 28, 2013, 2:40 am

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