By Lesley Grimm
Residents in Community Board 14 are worried that congestion pricing may have an unwanted ripple effect in their neighborhoods. Community members are worried that “park and ride” commuters may gobble up valuable parking spots. The fear is that drivers will ditch their cars in Brooklyn and then taking public transportation into Manhattan in order to avoid the proposed $8 congestion fee. The issue is set to be discussed at an upcoming Transportation Committee meeting, scheduled for 7 p.m. on January 10 at the Community Board 14 offices at 810 East 16th Street. The city appears to be taking steps to mitigate this potential problem. The Department of Transportation is reportedly considering residential parking permits in certain neighborhoods to tackle this very issue. Such a system would give residents the “right” to park in their own neighborhoods—but keep all others out. But Community Board 14 worries they have been excluded from the plan. “Residents of our community have expressed concern that if residential parking permits are created for Brownstone Brooklyn neighborhoods, it will simply shift the focus of that parking out to our community,” said chairman Alvin Berk at the December 17 meeting of Community Board 14, held at P.S. 249 at Caton Avenue and Marlborough Road. Berk described an “informal agreement” between City Hall and Park Slope, Prospect Heights and Brooklyn Heights. He said that if a permit system is implemented in those neighborhoods, residents fear “park and ride” commuters will simply move over to Community Board 14, which includes Flatbush, Midwood and Kensington. “Residents in our community will have to compete for spaces,” Berk said. “The other concern that has been brought to our attention is that the Mayor’s original congestion pricing proposal did not lay out much in the way of improved mass transit,” Alvin Berk said, speaking after the meeting. “I feel the plan has too much stick and not enough carrot,” Berk added. Community Board 14 is yet to establish a formal position on Mayor Bloomberg’s congestion pricing plan. The dialogue on January 10 is the first step towards that goal. The Transportation Committee will report back to the full board, possibly for a vote. “I’m sure it will be a healthy discussion,” said CB 14 district manager Doris Ortiz. “We are vigorously pursuing this issue,” she said. In April Mayor Bloomberg unveiled his plan to charge drivers $8 to enter the busiest part of Manhattan. The proposed fee is one component of a plan to improve the city’s environmental future. Mayor Bloomberg and the state legislature have set up a commission to examine congestion pricing and other options. The commission has until end of January to recommend a plan, which will then go before state lawmakers and city council. The CB 14 meeting on January 10 will also discuss a large new retail complex at Flatbush Avenue. Representatives from Target and Triangle Equities are expected to be in attendance. Residents may learn which new stores are coming to the shopping center. Community Board 14 was recently told by Target that they plan to open their new store in March 2008.