Should Grand Army Plaza go car-free? DOT, safe streets advocates ask neighbors to weigh in

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NEW YORK — A Brooklyn landmark could soon go car-free.

The city’s Department of Transportation is looking into the idea of making Grand Army Plaza safer for pedestrians, and Saturday, city officials and Safe Streets advocates met with people in the neighborhood for their feedback.

“We’re really excited to see what the community is looking for to reinvent Grand Army Plaza and rethink the public realm here,” said Terra Ishee, director of the DOT’s pedestrian unit.

Safe Streets advocates joined members of the DOT at the Brooklyn landmark to see what people who live and work in the area think.

“They’re looking for improved safety, improved  access for pedestrians, improved access and safety for cyclists as well,” Ishee said.

The plan would include connecting it to the open streets on Vanderbilt and Underhill avenues.

Some say there would have to be a balance.

“There are a lot of people coming here. You have to balance the old and new. There are new buildings going up. There’s a lot of history that you have to modify or destroy, but you also have to take into consideration that people are coming here, they want to be here,” one resident told CBS2’s Jennifer Bisram.

DOT officials say funding for the overhaul of the plaza could come from the $904 million pot put in place by Mayor Eric Adams for street safety improvements.

“Little Caribbean is just south of Grand Army Plaza, so when you come around the circle and you make a right on Flatbush Avenue and you hit Empire  Boulevard, you’re in the beginning of Little Caribbean,” said Shelley Worrell, founder of Caribbeing, a cultural grassroots organization in the area. “Everyone’s really against it. The traffic, the congestion that this will create, a bottleneck going north and south. In addition to buses, there are also dollar vans. People who live in public transportation deserts, they live in two- and three-fare zones, they rely on sort of this circle, which is sort of a main artery getting into Little Caribbean.”

There is no timeline as to when this would happen, but DOT officials say there could be a plan soon.

A virtual online workshop will be held Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. to get more feedback from people who work, live and travel to the area.

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