He was seen as a model for community involvement and for redoing the streetscape in Brownstone Brooklyn.
Just a few months ago, the Department of Transportation proudly announced a new permanent so-called open street on Willoughby Avenue in Fort Greene/Clinton Hill, closing it to 24/7 traffic, and ceding a pavement valuable to bicycles and dog walkers, and a neighborhood.
At Rhodora Wine Bar, it’s a dream come true.
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“Without the street closure, we wouldn’t have survived the past two years,” said Anita Brathwaite of Rhodora Wine Bar.
Except Thursday, without warning, the city teams came to dismantle it.
“And today we came out here and everything was gone. Any trace of that,” said neighborhood resident Jason Rabinowitz.
Gone are the barricades, planters, no-entry signs and the sense of progress people say they fought for.
“There were a lot of community organizations to put this in place. It took months and really years to make this permanent, to make it a staple of the neighborhood – it’s just wrong to snap your fingers and talk about it. not even disappear overnight,” Rabinowitz said.
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After an uproar on social media, it didn’t take long before the Department for Transport backtracked.
Barriers were temporarily moved, the agency tweeted, due to miscommunication.
Barriers have been temporarily moved from Willoughby Open Street due to miscommunication. We will restore the Open Street barriers tonight.
— NYC DOT (@NYC_DOT) February 10, 2022
And soon, the barricades were back. But not betrayal.
“If you want to change something, you say, ‘Oh, from March 1 the streets will be open to cars’, you don’t just do it without notice and just move everything and don’t tell everyone” , Brathwaite said.
There have been complaints that the barricades are too noisy when moved at night, and that they slow down emergency vehicles and make parking more difficult.
But the Department of Transport will not say why, or on whose order, they dismantled the Open Street. And now that the barriers are back, the question remains whether or not they’re back for good.
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