Committee Updates: May 2011

Livable Streets and FORTHonFourth

The many activities of the Civic Council’s new FORTHonFourth initiative were the main focus of the Livable Streets Committee’s most recent meeting, held May 19 at the Brooklyn Lyceum.

One of the new subcommittee’s biggest upcoming efforts will be a mapping project of Fourth Avenue. The goal is to create a set of data about Fourth Avenue that will “inform and possibly direct our future Fourth Avenue discussions,” said Civic Council member S.J. Avery, who is leading the effort.

The immediate objective for this initiative will be to collect and analyze information about each Fourth Avenue block. The first planning meeting for this effort is scheduled for the morning of May 26, after Civic News’ deadline, but there are still plenty of opportunities to plan and collect data for this wide-ranging project. For more information, e-mail us at

Other goals of FORTHonFourth are:

  • Tree plantings. We are looking into developing a “pilot group” of property and business owners who would “buy into” the idea of a fully tree-lined block, to look at the benefits and impacts, and assess expanding the initiative to the whole avenue. We will also look at this in relative to forthcoming zoning clarifications and amendments for Fourth Avenue.
  • Installation of more off-street bike parking and bike corrals at various locations.

The next meeting of the Livable Streets Committee and FORTHonFourth subcommittee is scheduled for Thursday, June 16, 7:30 a.m., at the Brooklyn Lyceum, Fourth Avenue and President Street.



Our committee’s May 23 meeting focused on food-waste recycling, waste treatment and hydrofracking, care for our new street trees, and the Fall Civic Sweep:

Vandra Thornburn from Vokashi talked about her business of providing food-waste-recycling services. Most food, even meat, can be recycled, she said. The process ferments the food using a Japanese method, creating a mix that disappears in the soil. Thornburn provides either set-up and pick-up service or sells the items needed to compost yourself.

The Sustainability Committee is looking for buildings that we can use to prototype this process, along with services from Eco Action Network. That organization has a program to reduce solid waste and recycle more items than is done in the city’s program.

Meanwhile, there is a waste-treatment bill in the state legislature to eliminate the loophole that allows oil and gas drillers to not treat their hazardous waste. Currently, the chemicals used for hydrofracking are shipped in as hazardous materials in a tightly controlled and monitored process. They are pumped into the wells with millions of gallons of water and sand; when they come out — poof! — they are no longer considered hazardous. We will be revising our letter to other community groups about climate legislation so as to include this issue.

Here in Park Slope, we need to make sure the new trees planted as part of the MillionTreesNYC program survive the hot summer. The Civic Council requested 50 trees for Seventh Avenue, many of which have already been planted. We expect to be seeking community volunteers who can help with this effort.

Finally, the fall edition of our Civic Sweep is scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 15. Because of construction at our normal base site, in front of the J.J. Byrne Playground on Fifth Avenue, we will have to seek alternatives. We hope to give away our new cloth bags at this event, which promote the elimination of plastic bags — and, of course, the work of the Civic Council.

Our next meeting is Monday, June 27. E-mail for more information and meeting location.

— Bob Gilbert is co-chair of the Sustainability Committee.

from the May 2011 Civic News