The Federal Government’s plan to permanently seize most of Cadman Plaza East so judges and employees of the imperious courthouse there can park for free is wrong.
The feds’ arrogant move, however, gives local officials an opportunity to do something for the benefit the our fledgling tourist industry by demanding a trolley in return for the land.
After 9-11, Cadman Plaza East — the only direct link between Borough Hall and DUMBO — was sealed off to vehicular traffic. At the time, officials said that the federal courthouse on the block between Tillary Street and Red Cross Place needed to be secure (the city’s Office of Emergency Management has since opened its headquarters on the same block).
Even if it will remain a parking lot for judges, Cadman Plaza East could become a much-neded direct link between bustling Downtown and tourist-attracting DUMBO — and that’s where Brooklyn’s trolley should make its triumphant return.
The route would run from Borough Hall (with its tourist office and transit hub) to the city park on the waterfront under the Manhattan Bridge. Along the way, it would pass the State Supreme Court, the main post office, Cadman Plaza Park, and — most important — the entrance to the Brooklyn Bridge footpath.
Putting in a trolley — that classic Brooklyn symbol — would not jeopardize courthouse security (indeed, despite the presence of armed guards, pedestrians can currently walk on the closed-off street). But the simple trolley line would energize the entire area, giving tourists something memorable and locals a way of getting from Downtown to the promised future attractions of Brooklyn Bridge Park.
True leadership means that while the feds seize the street, our civic leaders seize the opportunity.
With the federal government asking city permission to permanently close a street, we must counter with a bold proposal for a trolley, a true tourist attraction that generations of Brooklynites — and the tourists who love them — will cherish.