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Columbus Park — or Park-ing?

The Brooklyn Paper
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Years after they turned a neighborhood park into a car park, Brooklyn’s Supreme Court judges have agreed to remove some of their vehicles from the greensward’s pedestrian pathway.

“The pedestrian path will be restored this spring,” said Phil Abramson, a spokesman for the Parks Department, which brokered the agreement to restore some of the car-covered part of what is officially Columbus Park to the agency’s so-called Emerald Empire.

But the handover of the path, which on Tuesday was crowded with 12 cars, hardly represents a complete triumph.

The forfeited path sits next to an even larger green-park-turned-car-park on the right and a smaller pathway to the left typically used by Borough President Markowitz’s staff, which was occupied by six cars.

“This is a good first step, but it doesn’t go nearly far enough,” said Judy Stanton, executive director of the Brooklyn Heights Association.

The Association has been clamoring for the return of a real Columbus Park since 1999. At the time, Administrative Court Judge Michael Pesce promised that the parking lot would only be temporary, because the new court building at 330 Jay St. would accommodate the judges’ cars. It did not, however.

David Bookstaver, a spokesman for State Courts, insisted that the latest agreement to remove the judges’ cars showed that “as good members of the community, we were responsive.” But Stanton laughed at that notion.

“I would go back to the truth, that at the time that 330 Jay St. was planned, it was promised by the courts that they [would] take all the cars out of there,” she said. “The obligation to get the cars out has been there all along.”

Of course, the issue is larger than simply the park-cum-parking lot next to Borough Hall. Nearby, Washington Street between Tillary and Prospect streets has been taken over by federal court cars. And the triangle at the intersection of Cadman Plaza West and Tillary Street is routinely crowded with the cars of other federal and NYPD officials.

It’s all about government arrogance, said Paul White, executive director of Transportation Alternatives.

“They think they have the right to drive or park on park space or pedestrian space,” said White. “There’s a mindset that somehow they are so important that pedestrians don’t matter when they’re driving. We feel pedestrian space is sacred in New York.”

Updated 4:26 pm, July 9, 2018
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