Residents and merchants of a Victorian Flatbush neighborhood are standing up against a plan that will let people sit down at a local subway station.
Public rocking chairs are the central feature of an art installation that the Metropolitan Transportation Authority will install at the Avenue H station — a historic building that features a large porch.
But some fear that the rockers — part of the exhibit Brooklyn Bucolic” by artist Ed Kopel — will bring more urban blight than cozy country.
“Hanging out has been an issue for the 70th Precinct, with people loitering and sometimes doing less than legitimate things,” said Fred Baer, a member of the Fiske Terrace Association’s board.
In addition, Baer said, there was a concern that people would perch on the chairs, eat lunch, and leave their trash behind.
“There’s already litter,” he said. “Now, try to imagine on a nice day, when people hang out, what litter there is going to be.”
Litter was also a concern when the plan was first presented to the neighborhood in 2009 at a Community Board 14 meeting, which voted in favor of the plan.
Even still, some merchants on Avenue H don’t think the exhibit will be a boon to their businesses.
“Most people who buy sandwiches are students on their way to school,” said Anthony Azamar, a clerk in Eagle Deli who didn’t think the exhibit would help business.
Carl Abassi, the proprietor of the Midwood Deli, agreed.
“This is a family neighborhood,” he said. “The people who buy, buy and go home. There’s already a hang-out on the other side of the station.”
Baer has subsequently testified against the art installation at a March hearing of the Landmarks Preservation Commission, which must okay any alterations or additions to the station because of its landmark status.
Landmarks has since approved the exhibit, saying it will not damage to any architectural features of the building andwill enliven the public space.
“When we put art into an environment, it creates a sense of respect for the place and people take better care of it,” said Sandra Bloodworth, the director of the MTA’s Arts for Transit program, who added the agency would consider adding a trash can to the site to deal with the trash issue.
The art project’s installation will follow the restoration of the station, and is scheduled to occur in 2011.
The station was built as a real estate office by developer T.B. Ackerson in 1905-6, in conjunction with the construction of the homes in the new neighborhood of Fiske Terrace, which he built up.
©2010 Community News Group
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