Warm weather could finally end judges’ auto occupation

The Brooklyn Paper
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Park lovers in Downtown are praying for one last warm spell — and not because they want to play outside.

Apparently, if the weather can just get above freezing for two straight days, city contractors can finish construction on schedule of a parking lot for judges and other Supreme Court workers in Columbus Park — and the court employees can finally be booted from the northern part of the park near Borough Hall.

Workers need two more days of dry, above-freezing temperatures to finish paving and painting the new parking lot, said a Parks Department spokesman. During the two-month reconstruction, judges seized pedestrian walkway in the northern part of Columbus Park, angering many residents and pedestrians.

“People would like to see the construction done, and we’re very close,” said Community Board 2 District Manager Rob Perris. “But if we don’t get those warmer days, then we’re stuck with the status quo, and I think everyone is ready to move beyond the status quo.”

Temperatures are expected to be 48 and 60 degrees today and Wednesday, but it is supposed to rain, according to the National Weather Service, and crews need dry conditions. Then, the temperature will drop below the 40s by Thursday.

Once work is complete, judges stay within the confines of their new lot inside the park at the corner of Joralemon and Adams streets instead of overflowing their lot and parking on another pedestrian path just east of Borough Hall.

Workers have installed a new direct entrance to the lot from Joralemon Street, so judges won’t claim that bluestone-tiled pathway.

Reclaiming the space is a victory for the community, park advocates said. And even acting Administrative Judge Abe Gerges, who fought to maintain the driveway-like space, has called the compromise satisfactory.

“I think it all worked out in the best interest of the public as well as the judges — the public will have some more open space and the judges will have more parking,” Gerges told The Brooklyn Paper. “They’re working hard, and the only issue now is the weather and I don’t think any of us have control over that, not even judges.”

Brooklyn Heights Association Executive Director Judy Stanton said the reopening was definitely “good news.”

“Given the frigid weather, I won’t expect dancing in the street, but springtime will bring people out to take advantage of the extra space,” Stanton said. “We’ll certainly enjoy the openness of a car-free pedestrian walkway.”

Updated 5:10 pm, July 9, 2018
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