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Trolley dodger! Menchaca on streetcar: ‘I’m not for it’

Visions of things to come: A rendering imagines a streecar gliding past Industry City in Sunset Park — which in this fantastical future also sports bike lanes and repaved roads.
Brooklyn Paper
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Councilman Carlos Menchaca (D–Red Hook) came out against Mayor DeBlasio’s proposed streetcar during a public input session in Sunset Park on June 21. Hizzoner plans to pay for the $2.5-billion, developer-backed people-mover with additional tax revenue generated by rising property values that the Sunset Park-to-Queens line will spur. But rents are already off the rails in the neighborhood, and Menchaca said he can’t get on board with an engine for displacement.

“What was $800 for a one-bedroom is now almost $2,000, which is absolutely insane,” he told Gothamist. “If this is going to accelerate that, I’m not for it.”

A spokesman confirmed Menchaca’s statement, but said the councilman couldn’t provide additional comment.

And the legislator wasn’t the only one at the session who feared the tram will be a one-way ticket out of the neighborhood.

About 100 people with maps drew routes, highlighted what the streetcar should avoid, and noted landmarks it could pass. But mostly, they worried they wouldn’t be around to see the thing, because Sunset Park would be too expensive.

“I think it’s a disaster for this neighborhood. There are families that can barely afford to pay their rent now, and if this happens, it’s going to raise property taxes and raise rents,” said native renter Michael Alvarado. “It’s going to kick out a lot of people who have lived here. It’s turning this into a Midtown Manhattan.”

DeBlasio claims the project will link thousands of public housing residents to jobs along the waterfront, but Red Hookers also questioned whether the plan was better-suited to yuppies at a meeting last month.

Many in Sunset Park also told city reps they were concerned that trolley infrastructure could not survive a Hurricane Sandy sequel. The Friends of the Brooklyn-Queens Connector, a private group tram-boosting developers that first pushed the plan, claims the project would be “resilient against major weather and flood events” because it “would not rely on overhead wires and underground power sources.”

Others locals questioned if congested waterfront streets could handle a streetcar along with normal traffic. The city claimed in February that it would give the trolley a dedicated lane for 75–80 percent of its journey from Sunset Park to the hinterlands of Queens.

Still more demanded free transfers from the city-run system to the state-run subway — a provision that officials are not committing to.

The city’s Economic Development Corporation held four input sessions in the borough over the last two months and will do more in the fall, a representative said.

City officials say they’ll announce the route in 2018. They plan to begin construction — which could involve building two entirely new bridges — the following year.

Reach reporter Dennis Lynch at (718) 260–2508 or e-mail him at dlynch@cnglocal.com.
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Lisa from Sunset Park says:
He's against it because he's a racist, and he's willing to sabbotage the neighborhood for his hatred of white people. Also, let's be honest, he's pretty dumb.
June 24, 2016, 7:03 am
Norman from South Brooklyn says:
That is a pretty incendiary accusation Lisa. Mr. men has hit upon a flaw in the plan however, and a flaw in our city's tax structure, renters pay the heaviest property taxes. It is one big reason why there are so few affordable rentals. Mr. Menchaca could use his substantial influence to lower multi family property tax rates to the level of single family homes. If that does not happen, property by property, multi family rentals will disappear into condos and coops rather quickly.
June 24, 2016, 9:27 am
Maurice from Greenpoint says:
Why has the expansion of the Panama Canal been compromised? Because they went with an unreasonably low bid.
June 24, 2016, 9:35 am
Russell from Williamsburg says:
The continued expansion itself initiated the compromise.
June 24, 2016, 9:54 am
Mike from Williamsburg says:
Literally the worst reason to oppose something is that it will make life better and more desirable in a place. Why doesn't Menchaca ask the NYPD to promise not to stop crimes in his district and ask the MTA to cut service? That would bring rents down for sure. But I know why he doesn't do that--because it would be bad!
June 24, 2016, 10 am
Juan from Sunset Park says:
menchaca reminiscing about those $800 rents as if he has EVER lived in sunset park lol ... agree with norman and mike (although not sure how "substantial" his influence is)
June 24, 2016, 10:27 am
Alex from Park Slope says:
The notion that we shouldn't make improvements to low income neighborhoods for fear of gentrification is dangerous and deeply harmful. If you want to worsen inequality, this is a fine way to do it.
June 24, 2016, 11 am
Pedro Valdez Rivera Jr. from BS, BK, NY, US says:
I will support the BQX so long as NYC would: 1) invest millions upon millions of dollars to make the majority of the route resilient to future floods and storm surges; 2) Take away much less parking spaces and traffic lanes.
June 24, 2016, 11:56 am
Soraya from Sunset Park says:
Calling the Councilman a racist is itself a greater manifestation of racism. He said nothing about race in his critique of the streetcar. This is not an effective use of money and it will not improve any neighborhood, including those -- like the Williamsburg waterfront's expensive highrises -- which other comments claim will benefit from it.

Streetcars like this are too slow and poky to be effective for most people, whether they are rich white people, poor nonwhite people, poor white people, rich nonwhite people, etc. New Yorkers are in a hurry. This slowpoke travel is not for us.

This is something like the San Francisco cable cars, which is really for the tourists. If I want to get from Sunset Park to Greenpoint or Astoria, I don't have the time or patience to use this streetcar. There are faster, cheaper alternatives already. I can get the R train to Atlantic Avenue, walk a few blocks to the Fulton/Lafayette G train and be in Greenpoint (or, with transfers, Astoria) a lot faster than this streetcar will take me. If I'm in a real rush and want to spend more, there's Uber.

The waterfront areas of Brooklyn and Queens would be better off with the kinds of vans that run up and down Flatbush Avenue quickly.
June 24, 2016, 12:38 pm
Jacqui from Bk says:
Menacha is purposely trying to stop something we actually need! Why? Because he's a moron, plain and simple.
June 24, 2016, 12:46 pm
frank from further says:
You need a 2.5 billion light rail when you could put in an bus system for a tenth of that? You might need a couple of connectors to make that work but not a 2.5 billion light rail. How about a monorail over the street(resilient). If they can do it to LGA they can do it here too...but that would cost that 2.5 billion or more. what does the city really need to help get traffic off the street and off the overburdened bqe...the cross harbor tunnel not the bqx. Carlos is right.
June 24, 2016, 12:56 pm
Me from Bay Ridge says:
Are hipsters are too cool to board the B37 bus? There is plenty of room on it. So lets make a redundant street car line. Right.
June 24, 2016, 1:23 pm
frank from further says:
you can connect to the g train from the r. You need to go to Jay street metrotech on the R and take the a or c one stop to hoyt schermerhorn... They built a nice connection to the a/c/f train at Jay street only cost 100 million or so,
June 24, 2016, 1:41 pm
Carla from Windsor Terrace says:
Maybe Councilman Muchacho is scared because in his native Puerto Rico they'd get around by riding on a donkey. There's no reason to be scared Councilman. This is a good thing. I'm sure someone can explain it to you in Spanish if it's too confusing.
June 24, 2016, 5:44 pm
Teddy from Brooklyn says:
Menchaca is not Puerto Rican. He is Mexican.
June 24, 2016, 7:36 pm
Ian from Williamsburg says:
Selfish idiot is going to punish people who need clean energy based transit. Yep, this is straight racism. If you don't own your property you're not entitled to occupy it and maintain a slum with no services. Might as well start a crime wave because that would certainly keep rents low.
June 24, 2016, 11:18 pm
Pepesdad from Bensonhurst says:
This is all ONETERMBILL liberal agenda. He's such a KNUCKLEHEAD. He will be out of office and on vacation in a upstate jail.
June 24, 2016, 11:26 pm
John from Sunset Park says:
Where is Javier when you need him?
June 25, 2016, 1 am
SubwayMan from Newkirk Plaza says:
Make the Atlantic-Barclays station a super hub by connecting it to the nearby G train, perhaps through a walkway. One might already exist and just needs to be opened up. Remember how the two sides of the then Atlantic-Pacific station were blocked from each other for decades? And remember when a fence separated LIRR and subway riders in the corridor from the Q train to the 2, 3,4, and 5. trains? Further, how about extending Path to the Atlantic-Barclay station?
June 25, 2016, 2:15 am
Me from Bay Ridge says:
Per Ian from Williamsburg: "slum with no services" -- you mean other than the B37 bus on 3rd Avenue, the B63 bus on 5th Avenue and the R, N and D trains on 4th Avenue?
June 25, 2016, 6:47 am
John R. from Downtown Brooklyn says:
The councilman is right. The last thing we need in Sunset Park is prosperity and high rents. The best way to lower rents in Sunset Park is to leave the potholes unfilled until the streets resemble the back roads of Mexico, pass a zoning law the prohibits any grocery store larger than 1000 square feet, eliminate the local police and fire station, and close the 36 Street stop on the R line. That should reduce rents by more than 50% and make Sunset Park the most affordable neighborhood in NYC.
June 25, 2016, 1:28 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Just let this idea die already! Having grade level rails in NYC was stopped long ago due to how dangerous it was found to be. Even having the nostalgia isn't enough to bring that back. The latest idea on ferry service throughout the boroughs is more useful than this.
June 25, 2016, 4:07 pm
Humpington Pooter from Virginia says:
If he misses Mexico so much, he can just go back there.
June 26, 2016, 6:38 am
Roberto from Brooklyn Heights says:
One weak point for light rail is that its high cost seems to have little effect on traffic congestion. In many cases, congestion has increased. Trolleys share the same streets as the rest of the vehicles and have the ability to overrule traffic signals to keep the streetcars moving. Studies suggest that air pollution increases with light rail.
Before rushing to judgement, voters need to have access to the facts. Hype about magnificent outcomes needs to be looked at. The reality of who will actually benefit from the multi-billion dollar investment, as well as why there is a cheering section of developers both need to be assessed.
June 26, 2016, 7:38 am
Charles from Bklyn says:
Because this is an idea brought forward by developers, we can assume it's not to serve the community of today but the community to come, as for profit developers look for increased profits. The genterfying trolley machine of the future ... rolling past where you use to live.
June 26, 2016, 7:07 pm
Pedro Valdez Rivera Jr. from BS, BK, NY, US says:
Even the most realists in this comments section thinks it is a bad idea from the start. Why not spending $2.5B on improving on own infrastructure that needs to be maintained?
June 26, 2016, 7:47 pm
Beverly from Park Slope says:
No Pedro, you are the unrealistic one, this is a good idea. If people thought like that there would be no subway. I know it's hard for you to envision because they have nothing like this in Latin America. You and Menchacha need to understand that you're in America now. This is bueño.
June 27, 2016, 7:54 am
Pedro Valdez Rivera Jr. from BS, BK, NY, US says:
I'll bet that the BQX will be at least $4B before its set and done in 2024 because that it is the norm for most of these projects by the DOT, the EDC, and the MTA. Billions of dollars couldn't be used to helping the homeless, improving education, improving NYCHA buildings, etc. Because you can't handle the truth, go troll someone else in the comments thread who had the same concerns as me. BTW, I don't want my taxes to be paid for this.
June 27, 2016, 9:38 am
Pedro Valdez Rivera Jr. from BS, BK, NY, US says:
And Beverly, I am direct my comments to you because you can't handle the truth of the BQX's negative consequences such as the reasons other commentators said above.
June 27, 2016, 9:40 am
Me from Bay Ridge says:
This plan was conceived so that the north Brooklyn hipsters can have a one-seat ride to their studios, maker spaces and artisinal kitchens in BAT and Bush Terminal. Sunset Park does not have a transportation shortage. Red Hook I gather does, so they may need more bus service to the existing subway lines.
June 27, 2016, 10:14 am
Terrence says:
I once took a bus from red hook to greenpoint. 40 days, 40 nights
June 27, 2016, 12:39 pm
Beth from Windsor Terrace says:
Quite frankly, I don't appreciate the disparaging remarks directed to the councilman; I am very perturbed at the bigotry. I believe this plan needs to be investigated carefully. This is a flood zone area and doesn't make any sense. The traffic congestion, pedestrian safety and pollution levels must be examined!!! This proposal should be put to a vote by the citizens of Brooklyn and neighborhoods to be impacted!!! This is the democratic way.
Dec. 22, 2016, 10:42 pm
Dan from Bay Ridge says:
The comments here being made about councilman Machacho specifically referring to his race, native language or nationality are idiotic and disgusting. Shame on you, Beverly from Park Slope, Humpington Pooter from Virginia, and Carla from Windsor Terrace. Absolutely despicable.
Jan. 31, 2017, 11:22 pm

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