The czar of Brooklyn’s parks has heard from scores of Manhattan Beach residents about possible hazards associated with the large planters lining Oriental Boulevard -- and he’s responded with the proverbial ‘Let ‘em eat cake.’
Parks Department Brooklyn Borough Commissioner Julius Spiegel wrote in a recent letter to Community Board 15 Chair Theresa Scavo that the planters do not endanger motorists or pedestrians.
“I understand the issues you raise concerning traffic crossing over the boulevard from both directions,” wrote Spiegel and compared them to similar planters on Park Avenue South in Manhattan.
“The Park Avenue Malls, near Union Square, are lushly planted with high shrubs in containers, much like those on Oriental Boulevard, but still allow for the safe flow of traffic,” he added.
The letter drew the rancor of Scavo and Manhattan Beach Neighborhood Association members when she read it at their meeting.
“The letter was insulting and was more of a final act that they won’t be moved,” said Scavo, adding Spiegel has received numerous written and verbal correspondences from her that the community feels the planters are a danger.
“We’ve also received letters from community members who said they were willing to raise money and remove the planters themselves,” she said.
The planters were installed about two years ago, and at the time, local residents approved the traffic calming measures.
However, through a mistake, the planters were larger than what was originally ordered, according to local residents. They received oversized pots with plants growing out of them nearly four feet high on the median strip in the middle of the boulevard.
Residents claim the planters obstruct views for motorists turning onto side streets.
Median strips and plantings on them fall under the jurisdiction of the Parks Department.
Parks Department officials told residents that they would move the oversized pots from the median to the sidewalk by the end of September, but now say they don’t have the machinery to lift the heavy planters.
In the meantime, city Department of Transportation (DOT) figures show 10 reported car accidents on Oriental Boulevard so far this year.
Scavo thinks going to the DOT may be the answer and has heard rumblings from a community liaison source that Spiegel will be overruled.
“We believe there is something going on in the mayor’s office and they feel there is something to do it,” said Scavo. “They’ve come back to say its being seriously considered to have them moved.”