Rail-splitter! Red Hook Houses leaders divided on streetcar

In the Red: A rendering shows the trolley gliding through Red Hook.
Brooklyn Paper
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook

Don’t miss our updates:

It is East versus West.

The tenant leaders of the Red Hook Houses are divided over whether Mayor DeBlasio’s planned $2.5-billion streetcar will actually help residents of the massive public housing complex as the city is promising. One recently joined the board of the project’s advocacy group, but the other says she is skeptical the route will end up being designed with New York City Housing Authority denizens in mind.

“I don’t see how it would be able to help us,” said Lillie Marshall, the tenant association president of the Red Hook West Houses. “Wherever they put it isn’t going to help the people of NYCHA that much.”

The city has been touting the Sunset Park-to-Queens streetcar as a way to connect 40,000 public housing project residents to subways and job hubs — especially those in the Red Hook Houses, which is the borough’s largest housing project with some 6,000 tenants but has no subway stops nearby.

Marshall’s counterpart in the Red Hook East Houses agrees — she thinks it will be a boon for residents by offering them a way to get to work without trekking to the Smith-Ninth station in Gowanus.

“It’s a good project and I think it will be very helpful to all of the communities it’s going to go through,” said Brown, one of two Brooklyn public housing leaders to join the board of lobby group Friends of the Brooklyn–Queens Connector, out of 11 projects along the route. “We have a lot of people who have very good jobs and have to get to their jobs.”

Marshall says she also met with reps from the Friends — an organization chaired by builder Jed Walentas of Two Trees, who first came up with the streetcar idea and has property along the line — who wanted to know how she felt about the trolley. But she came away unconvinced that it will help anyone except developers and residents outside the housing complex, she said.

The city is still deciding on the route the tram will take through the nabe, but a preliminary proposal released in November shows it traveling either down Mill Street — right through the middle of the houses in what looks to be an incredibly narrow space — or on the vastly roomier Bay Street, a few blocks away near the ball fields.

Several residents polled at both the east and west sides of the complex said they are excited about having more transit options nearby.

“I have kids that work in the city and on weekends the trains are horrible,” said Yvette Rodriguez, who lives in Red Hook West. “This will be a great idea so they have another way to get around.”

But one said he isn’t on board, because he thinks it could mow down kids playing in the streets.

“I don’t support it,” said Barnaville Willey, who also lives in Red Hook West. “There’s a lot of kids out here running in the street who could get hit by it.”

The Red Hook Houses’ most famous former resident, Knicks superstar Carmelo Anthony, also recently joined the Friends board of directors and recorded a video endorsing the streetcar. He now lives Manhattan.

Reach reporter Lauren Gill at or by calling (718) 260–2511. Follow her on Twitter @laurenk_gill
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018
Today’s news:
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook

Don’t miss our updates:

Reasonable discourse

Pedro Valdez Rivera Jr. from BS, BK, NY, US says:
You spell "streetcar" wrong in the captions on the photo. Please fix it ASAP.
Jan. 12, 2017, 9:28 am
Pedro Valdez Rivera Jr. from BS, BK, NY, US says:
How does this could impact this year's mayoral elections in either a good way or a bad way? You tell me.
Jan. 12, 2017, 9:34 am
Tyler from pps says:
So.... of all the groups to whine about the streetcar, the people who live in housing with rents set by the city (immune from gentrification price hikes). Uggh.

Oh -- and there are kids in the street who are going to be hit?! By a predictable train on tracks? Jeezus give me strength. Good things cars are banned on those same streets, right?

By the way, the "the streetcar will raise our rents" argument is just a ridiculous, but at least it has *some* rational basis.
Jan. 12, 2017, 9:54 am
Salacious Dossier from Urinetown says:
This will help the flow of traffic and plug up leaks in our transportation system. It should be a peeority.
Jan. 12, 2017, 11:38 am
Trolley Bob from Red Hook & Kensington says:
How Fascinating - Ms. Lillie Marshall co-authored an article stating SHE IS IN FAVOR OF THE BQX STREETCAR in today's Crain's NY:

So, who's LYING- ANY WHY?
Jan. 12, 2017, 12:19 pm
Bkmanhatman from Nubrucklyn says:
As long as the street car connects to a subway stop. That's still a win-win situation even for the hood rats!
Jan. 12, 2017, 1:54 pm
Lauren Gill from Brooklyn Paper says:
Hi Bob,

I spoke to Ms. Marshall today and she stood by her comments in my article that she is skeptical the streetcar will help NYCHA residents.

She told me she signed onto the Crain's op-ed to show her support in case it does actually end up benefitting tenants.

This is clearly not "fake news" and please feel free to give me a call at 718 260 2511 in the future with any questions.
Jan. 12, 2017, 2:36 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
The reason why there is so much skepticism is because the majority of the route is by luxury housing and is still far away from most subway stops especially below Brooklyn Heights.
Jan. 12, 2017, 4:11 pm
Mike Quill from Underground says:
They're trying to sell this special North Brooklyn to Industry City/BAT hipster transport by saying it will help Red Hook. Why not just build a line through Red Hook to the F train?
Jan. 12, 2017, 9:12 pm
blogger Bill from Boerum Hill says:
Oh, these sweet lying streetcars. BQX makes them
look so innocent when in fact they require 36
feet of the center of streets exclusively--no buses or trucks allowed on their turf. (They are almost
always photoshopped as sailing along alone in
peaceful quiet traffic--which by the way doesn't
exist anywhere in Brooklyn and is only getting worse). BQX supporters are provably lying about
the facts. They will kill local businesses--demand buses instead. Get there cheaper and faster.
Jan. 12, 2017, 9:42 pm
eme from red hook says:
Can we please stop repeating the idiocy that Red Hook Houses are not near a subway stop? RH East Houses are a short walk to smith and ninth. West Houses are a bit further away, but it is still a walkable distance for most. The concept that people are unable to get to jobs is just silly. I have lived in RH for almost 20 years (not in public housing). Me and my family have never had difficulty getting to work. We walk to the train, bicycle to train, or take the local bus. My children travel to schools in various parts of brooklyn without difficulty. Blaming a supposed lack of transportation for the entrenched poverty of African Americans and Latinos is not helpful to solving it. There is public housing located right at subway stops in this city -do the people living there have higher incomes or better jobs? I doubt it. I am not opposed to the BQX. For the elderly and infirm it will surely help. But for able-bodied adults and children, Red Hook does not have a transportation problem and the coming ferry will further ease the slight inconvenience of us being a long walk from the subway.
Jan. 13, 2017, 10:05 am
JQ LLC from the dirty southeast of Queens says:
The friends of the BQX couldn't photoshop rails in that stupid picture?
Jan. 14, 2017, 3:14 pm

Comments closed.

First name
Last name
Your neighborhood
Email address
Daytime phone

Your letter must be signed and include all of the information requested above. (Only your name and neighborhood are published with the letter.) Letters should be as brief as possible; while they may discuss any topic of interest to our readers, priority will be given to letters that relate to stories covered by The Brooklyn Paper.

Letters will be edited at the sole discretion of the editor, may be published in whole or part in any media, and upon publication become the property of The Brooklyn Paper. The earlier in the week you send your letter, the better.

Keep it local!

Stay in touch with your community. Subscribe to our free newsletter: