Prospect Heights

[Press Release] Adams names vague influence of “those outside the community” as reason why street safety projects are being halted

February 6, 2024

BROOKLYN — Yesterday afternoon, Mayor Adams addressed a question regarding the status of the stalled Underhill Avenue Bike Boulevard at his in-person media availability. His response, which negated rumors that he secretly met with opponents of the project, had extremely misleading implications tied to it, including that “those outside the community” might be “dictating what is going to happen on a local level.” In response to these comments, Gib Veconi, the Chair of Prospect Heights Neighborhood Development Council (PHNDC) — the local community development organization in Prospect Heights — has issued the following statement:

“The Mayor’s assertion that somehow there is an unusual outside influence impacting street redesigns in Prospect Heights is outrageous, and frankly, silly. Mayor Adams knows very well that PHNDC — an organization with twenty years of history in the neighborhood — is behind the push to get the project complete, along with thousands of other Prospect Heights residents. This has nothing to do with outsiders, and the Mayor is only fanning the flames of division with fear, when he should be trying to calm them with leadership.”

There has been more City-run outreach done for the Underhill Avenue redesign than there has been for all other street safety initiatives in Prospect Heights combined. To date this outreach includes:

  • 2 online surveys conducted by DOT
  • 5 DOT on-street workshops
  • 4 presentations to the local community board
  • Door-to-door outreach on Underhill Avenue conducted by City Hall’s Community Affairs Division in November, 2023

The results of this outreach have been overwhelmingly clear, with DOT’s own surveys finding 86% of residents support permanent changes to make Underhill and Vanderbilt Avenues pedestrian and/or cycling priority corridors while only 10% of survey respondents want to drive on the street.

In addition to City-run outreach, the Streets for People petition, launched by PHNDC last September to gauge local support for the bike boulevard and similar projects, now has collected over 3,200 signatures, 74% of which are from Prospect Heights and surrounding neighborhoods. 

Mayor Adams also cited concerns about the redesign impeding vehicular traffic, including that of emergency vehicles, despite the fact that FDNY Borough Command already approved the design. Additional evidence that the new Underhill Avenue design does not impede traffic can be seen here.

“If the Mayor truly cared about our community — which includes a rapidly growing number of seniors and children — this project would have moved forward months ago. Instead, we’re still fighting for street safety improvements while the Mayor fuels polarization by speculating about non-existent ‘outsiders’,” added Veconi.

Mayor Adams has cited numerous other reasons for halting street redesign projects in the past, including:

This is the first time the Mayor has stated outright concern about supposed groups of outsiders conspiring to influence street projects.

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