Preserving Our Rich Street Life
From its beginnings following the Civil War, Park Slope has been a community of diversity, where people of different means and ethnicities and beliefs have come in contact while shopping on Fifth and Seventh Avenues, walking to school or house of worship, enjoying Prospect Park, and traveling by streetcar and bus, the old Fifth Avenue El and the subway. It’s a place where one can walk everywhere, and in the course of that walk run into neighbors and friends, taking the time to stop and chat.
Certainly, Park Slope is an urbane urban environment with wonderful architecture and a human scale, but those would count for little, without the richness of its street life. That certainly is one of Park Slope’s finest assets.
The mission of the Civic Council’s Livable Streets Committee is to improve the use, safety and quality of the streets, sidewalks, and streetscape of Park Slope, in cooperation with neighboring communities, in ways that enhance street life and safety for all users.
Successful Livable Streets initiatives have been spun off in recognition of their success. The semi-annual Civic Sweep is now organized by our Sustainability Committee, and has added a strong focus on sustainability and good environmental stewardship. The focus on Fourth Avenue that led to the very successful March 2010 public forum, “The Future of Fourth Avenue,” and the energy that followed that event gave rise to the Civic Council’s Forth on Fourth Avenue Committee. In January 2012 the Civic Council, together with Park Slope Neighbors and the Prospect Heights Neighborhood Development Council, held a neighborhood forum on the city’s Neighborhood Slow Zones initiative.
In 2015 the Livable Streets Committee will hold a community meeting to look back at what has changed – and what has not – regarding livable streets since the last such meeting in early 2009. This meeting will help develop the Civic Council’s advocacy for livable streets going forward.
The Civic Council is a member of the Park Slope Street Safety Partnership.
Sometimes the Livable Streets Committee has gone afield to look at how the streetscape is worked on in other communities. One example: on a cold Saturday in January 2012, a few of us went up to the Claremont neighborhood in the central Bronx to see the City’s prototype Neighborhood Slow Zone. (Pictured, left to right, Lauri Schindler, Joshua Levin, and Daniel Murphy; photo by Michael Cairl.) We walked all over the community and talked with local residents about issues like parking and speeding, and came back with good information for the forum on a Neighborhood Slow Zone we held soon afterward. Often, there’s no good substitute for “boots on the ground.”