May/June 1999, p.10

'Green Barrier' Rally Symbolizes Renewed Call for Car-Free Trial Period

Unfazed by torrential rains, 60 supporters of a car-free Prospect Park gathered on Friday, April 23, to create a green barrier of potted plants at the park's Grand Army Plaza traffic entrance and renew the call for a three month car-free trial period.Supporters of a car-free Prospect Park vigorously renewed their call for a three-month car-free trial period in response to the March announcement by the Departments of Parks and Transportation and Brooklyn Borough President Howard Golden of only minor changes in car-free hours. The announcement by the agencies that weekday car-free periods would be expanded from 10am to 3pm to 9am to 5pm was intended to be the official conclusion of a five-year traffic study by the Department of Transportation to assess the effects of creating a car-free Prospect Park. But given the massive public support for a car-free trial period, and the DOT's own conclusion that keeping cars out of the park would result in minimal traffic disruption, the City's decision fell far, far short.

Stalwart park supporter Councilmember Steven DiBrienza delivered a rousing speech and promised to aggressively push for the three month car-free trial.In the last three years, Brooklynites have sent more than 20,000 letters and postcards to government officials demanding a car-free park and three-month trial period. All four city councilmembers surrounding the park support the trial closing, as does Community Board 6 and numerous park user and environmental groups. In April 1998, more than 300 Brooklyn residents showed up to testify at a Borough Hall hearing on a car-free park. Of those able to testify, 75 spoke in favor of a car-free park, while three were opposed.

"The City is afraid of a car-free trial period because it will prove once and for all that a car-free Prospect Park would work," said T.A. Brooklyn Committee Chairman Alan Mukamal. "If they had any confidence in their claim that a traffic mess would result from a car-free park, the smart thing for them to do would be to have a trial period, let traffic jam up for a week or so and then point to the howls of anger and traffic problems. That would silence the car-free park movement for a long time to come. But this is purely about politics and letting the mayor's friends keep driving through the park. The City's claims that a car-free park would create a traffic disaster don't hold water. Neither do the misguided ideas that motorists are 'park users' or that cars make the park safer. We will win a car-free park within the next five years."

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