Not only have state Supreme Court judges angered Downtowners by commandeering the northern part of Columbus Park for a private parking lot, but that parking lot is filled almost entirely with foreign cars, a Brooklyn Paper investigation reveals.
On Tuesday and Wednesday, 15 out of 16 cars parked in the judges’ temporary lot were made by non-American companies. The sole American car on the Cadman Plaza side of 360 Adams St. courthouse was a Ford Mustang convertible.
And the plethora of foreign cars was equally posh, ranging from German BMWs and Japanese Lexus sedans alongside more traditional Hondas, Toyotas, and Nissans. There was also a Swedish-built Volvo.
Looking out over the lot on Wednesday afternoon, a court officer laughed when he realized that more than 93 percent of the cars were not from the Detroit Big Three (soon to be Big Two).
“I guess that’s the state of America now — we buy foreign,” said the guard, who would not give his name.
Acting Administrative Judge Abe Gerges — who has long defended the judges’ right to seize parkland for their cars — defended the automotive choices of his taxpayer-paid employees.
“Judges are citizens of this country and city and state, and I’m certainly not going to dictate to anybody — whether a judge or a newspaper person” — what he or she should drive, said Gerges, who said he does not drive to work from his Brooklyn Heights home. “I think that they [judges] are entitled to buy whatever kind of car they want.”
The ad hoc foreign car dealership will remain in the northern part of Columbus Park for the next two months while workers install an entrance into the judge’s actual parking lot — itself part of Columbus Park, next to Borough Hall on Joralemon Street. That construction will prevent judges from using the bluestone-tiled pedstrian pathway next to Borough Hall as a driveway and an overflow lot.
The seizure of northern Columbus Park — between Montague Street and the General Post Office building — is particularly irksome for pedestrians who are forced to detour around it despite the plethora of walkable space between the cars.
Despite community pressure, Gerges has maintained that his judges need parking spaces inside Columbus Park to ensure their safety. But last week, a Daily News investigation found that roughly half of the cars parked in the temporary space are registered to secretaries, law clerks, court aides and others — not judges.
Of the 30 vehicles in the News report, 53 percent were registered to judges. That’s down from 60 percent when the News did the same analysis last March.
— with Evan Gardner and Emily Lavin
The list of cars in the judges’ temporary parking lot at the Adams Street courthouse on Wednesday speaks volumes about our civil servants’ buying habits:
Toyota Camry, Honda Civic coupe, Honda CR-V, Volvo V70*, Toyota Celica, Lexus GS, Lexus LS, BMW 5 Series, Mercedes M-Class, Mercedes C-Class (3), Nissan Quest, Acura TL, Hyundai Sonata (3)
* Volvo is owned by Ford, though the car is Swedish made.