UPDATE 12/09/13: Director of soccer organization FC Select, Jamie Zeppernick, says, that he has heard from Dept. of Transportation: “They have said [DOT] conducted the counts on the [Dec.] 6th for one hour at three intersections [Kent Ave. at North 8th, 9th, and 10th streets] and it does not warrant any [traffic safety] measures.” As Zeppernick suspected the counts were done at a time that doesn’t reflect the true nature of the numbers [of pedestrians crossing the streets]. “One hour is not sufficient and it depends when [DOT] did [counts]. For example, if a game starts at 9am everyone shows up at 8:30 am, and will not leave for over an hour. There are many times when people come and go.”
Zeppernick also indicated that his organization was not informed of when the counts were conducted. “I have asked for the results but have not received them to date.”
Read story below. [Shame on DOT.]
A child was struck and killed by an oncoming vehicle in Park Slope when he chased after a soccer ball that rolled out of Prospect Park into the street, this past October. This prompted soccer organizations FC Select and GWSYL and parents in Williamsburg to step up their efforts to get the DOT to install traffic lights along Kent Ave. at North 8th, 9th, and 10th streets.
“We want to avoid any tragedies from happening in the Williamsburg neighborhood,” said Jamie Zeppernick, director of FC Select.
These organizations, parents and relatives of soccer kids, have been requesting traffic lights for a couple of years, with no success, and are worried that another year will go by without any safety measures in place.
“There aren’t even painted crosswalks,” said Zeppernick.
A traffic light exists at North 6th St. and one at North 14th St. on Kent Ave. “It’s become a speed tunnel,” said Zeppernick, “because once they have passed the light at North 6th St., drivers have free reign to North 14th St.; there’s no stopping, and pedestrians have to navigate oncoming traffic, parked cars, and bike lanes going in both directions.”
During the spring, summer and fall seasons, hundreds of kids, ages five through 13, make their way to and from the soccer field at North 9th every day. The soccer field was built in the Bushwick Inlet Park in 2010 as part of Mayor Bloomberg’s redevelopment of the waterfront.
The intersections are also hugely trafficked by several thousand pedestrians, tourists and local residents, attending Brooklyn Flea, Smorgarsburg, and East River Park. Outdoor concerts also bring hundreds to the area.
“Drivers are also frustrated because it seems like pedestrians don’t see the cars,” said a resident who drives, and admitted, “I just want to get out of the area and speed through.”
Now that most of the waterfront activities will be ending for the season, parents are concerned that a long awaited visit from the Department of Transportation, to study the area, and count the numbers of people crossing Kent Ave., will not reflect the actual numbers.
“We want stop-gap measures in place, as soon as possible,” said Zeppernick, including speed limit signs, children at play signs, and painted crosswalks.
The eventual safety measures also include the possibility of bike traffic lights, said Zeppernick.
Speed bumps were suggested, he said, but it was “quickly shot down,” because buses and large commercial trucks use the street.
Assemblyman Joseph Lentol has written a letter to DOT Brooklyn Commissioner Joe Palmieri requesting traffic lights. A representative at Lentol’s office said, “the Commissioner will be coming to the neighborhood to see the situation soon.”
A call from the WG to Palmieri’s office was not returned at the time of the posting of this story.
The GWSYL has sent the parents of club members notices for crossing the street safely, such as keeping soccer balls in bags, until reaching the soccer field. The field is used year round, weather permitting, said Zeppernick.
Just recently, two traffic lights were installed on Kent Ave., a mile south at Wilson St. and Hooper St., a year after a hit and run tragedy in which a newlywed couple and a newborn were killed, when the car service they were riding in was hit by a speeding vehicle.
A petition was started on October 22, by FC Select. They have collected almost 600 signatures, to date. FCS Petition