Bk. Board 4 Blasts ‘Incomplete’ Station Plan
Despite their frustration over its limited scope, Brooklyn Community Board 4 voted during its meeting last Wednesday, Oct. 15, to recommend an MTA proposal for improvements to the Wilson Avenue L train station in Bushwick-which include an access ramp for only one half of the stop.
The Manhattan-bound side will get a wheelchair accessible ramp, according to the plan presented by MTA official Andrew Ingelsby.
Following the presentation, several Board 4 members criticized the plan which many feel is too limited, partially ignores the needs of Canarsiebound riders and does not address a trash-filled lot adjacent to the station.
After these concerns were expressed, the board voted to recommend that a letter be sent to state officials appraising them of these concerns.
Ingelsby told attendees the ramp will go on the Manhattanbound side because it is on the first floor of the station, adding, “if Canarsie-bound was on the first floor, that would get the ADA accessibility.”
He said a ramp to the Canarsie-bound side would be much more expensive and was not included in the proposal. However, this did not placate the board’s general frustration.
“I hear some of your concerns. We need to speak with the state representatives,” Board 4 District Manager Nadine Whitted said. “I hear that you think this is an incomplete project, however, this is what they’re offering us today.”
The project will waterproof the roof; clean and replace existing drainage; clean and paint the structural steel beams in the ceiling; repair and replace missing or damaged tiles; bring lighting up to current standards; replace the concrete floor; remove drip pans; and restore historic mosaics on both sides, according to the MTA.
Improvements to both sides of the station will also include reconstructed platform edges. In addition, the entry front facade, the entry stairway, the entry doors and the sidewalks at the entrance will be rebuilt, according to Ingelsby.
But the most controversial component of the proposal was to construct the new ramp, and the inaction on the decrepit lot.
“Clearing and fencing that lot was not part of the project. We want it to be,” Whitted stated.
Construction is scheduled to start in January of next year and be completed by February 2016, according to MTA spokesperson Kevin Ortiz. The station will close on four weekends, and also for a two- to three-week period for extensive repairs, he said.
“Right now we are looking to do it in the summer 2015, when ridership is lowest,” Ortiz wrote in an email to the Times Newsweekly.
Though the project does not address all of the board’s concerns, “this is a project we’ve been long awaiting,” Whitted said.
She said last Wednesday the Board 4 Transportation Committee recently met with officials to learn about the project and that “the thing that was a glaring observation for this project was cameras and lighting, particularly on the Canarsiebound side.”
Assemblywoman Maritza Davila also addressed the project: “It’s disturbing to me how it’s going to cater to go to Manhattan and not to Canarsie.”
“It’s not right that ADA accessibility is only going one way,” Davila added.
“By 2020, we are federally mandated to have 100 of the 468 stations fully ADA accessible, This is not one of them,” Ingelsby stated.
“I would like to have seen more community input. That’s not acceptable,” Davila said.
The land next to the station, a also owned by the MTA, is unsightly and has been that way for several years, according to board members. They would like to see the site cleaned and fenced off, and if not it should be turned over to the neighborhood for community use, many argued.
“Why have that piece of land sitting there doing nothing?” Davila asked. “I suggest that, maybe Nadine, that is something you could talk to the MTA about.”
Even though the improvements will be limited the project is welcome given the current condition of the station, Whitted said.
“That Wilson Avenue train station is horrible and has been horrible,” she said. “I don’t know why we got a component project and not a complete rehabilitation.”
“It’s a big system, we have 468 stations,” Ingelsby said. “Yes I know it’s a long time coming, We thank the community for the patience.”
The limited scope of the project doesn’t make sense to Whitted, especially the ramp only leading to one side.
“If you go one way you gotta come back the other way,” she said.
“We are saying we would like to see a ramp for Canarsie-bound travelers,” she added.
The board voted to recommend sending a letter to state officials asking that lighting, and cameras be installed on both sides, and that the land next to the station be cleared and fenced and/or it be turned over to the community for neighborhood uses.
The board will request cameras on the outside of the station as well, Whitted said.
To get all of these concerns addressed and completed, Whitted said she realized “it could take a few years. We know that.”
Community Board 4 meetings are held every third Wednesday of the month at the Hope Gardens Senior Center, 195 Linden St. Meetings begin at 6 p.m.