DITMAS PARK/KENSINGTON – Councilman Mathieu Eugene (D, 40th) put out a press release last Friday, touting his hard work in getting a traffic light and crosswalk approved that will likely be installed next year by PS889, IS890 on Coney Island Avenue.
It said, “Council Member Eugene has pushed for the installation of a traffic light at the location since the groundbreaking of the facility in 2014.”
If true (we are yet to hear back from Council member’s staff), this alone would make him quite possibly one the most ineffective representatives in the city. How does one work with the NYC DOT on getting a crosswalk and traffic signal for 4 years with nothing to show for it? The reason I am not holding my breath on hearing back from Eugene’s office is that in general, in our experience of having covered him for the past 10 years he’s been in office, it takes weeks if not months to get any meaningful response.
On this site, we have been covering the school since it was proposed, through demolition of the house that was there, eminent domain, through groundbreaking, delays in construction, rezoning, apparent lack of thought given to traffic safety, and pushing incredibly hard on behalf of parents to get some solutions put in place.
It is our understanding, from various sources, that the fact that there is a traffic safety issue by the school came to the attention of the various agencies as the result of our article in July. It questioned whether the school would have safe routes in place in time for opening, given it is located on a truck route that all children attending need to cross because of the way the school is zoned.
When we reached out to the council member then (July 20th), we never heard back after “I haven’t heard anything from the DOT, but I will check with my colleague and see if there are any plans to do so.” Follow up the next day got us: “Nothing yet. I’ll let you know if I can confirm anything.”
In fact, we did not hear back until after Assemblyman Carroll got involved in advocating on behalf of parents. It was Assemblyman Carroll who organized the meeting that brought all the parties – DOT, School, Police together to discuss the situation and came up with an interim plan to make the area safer.
Over a month after our initial request to Councilmember Eugene for information, on August 31st, which would be about a week before the school was to start, we got a response:
“Council Member Eugene was given a tour of the new school this morning by school administrators. He mentioned the area traffic patterns along Coney Island Avenue and how it won’t be safe for children who are crossing the street. Our office is going to be in contact with DOT to set up those measures. I don’t know if anything has been set in place as of yet, but we will be working on making that happen.”
To then go about touting advocating for years on behalf of the children attending this school who all live in his district is disingenuous at best.
FULL PRESS RELEASE:
New York City Department of Transportation to Install Traffic Light at New School on Coney Island Avenue
(Brooklyn, NY) – Council Member Mathieu Eugene, who advocated for the construction of the new facility, has worked with the New York City Department of Transportation to approve plans for the installation of a traffic light at the intersection of Coney Island Avenue and Hinckley Place. The intersection currently lacks much needed safety measures to insure that students are able to safely cross Coney Island Avenue. Council Member Eugene has pushed for the installation of a traffic light at the location since the groundbreaking of the facility in 2014.
Many in the community, including teachers at the new school, local elected officials, and parents had expressed concerns that fast moving traffic along Coney Island Avenue presented a significant hazard to students. The traffic light will add another level of security for parents and their children who will be adding considerable foot traffic to the area.
The timeframe for the installation of a traffic light by the DOT is typically four months, however Council Member Eugene and DOT Brooklyn Borough Commissioner Keith Bray are committed to moving the project forward as quickly as possible.
“This new school is a major asset for our community, and I have been a supporter of the project since day one. I have said, time and time again, we need to do something about the safety of our students,” said Council Member Eugene. “I have been advocating to make this traffic light a reality, and I am very pleased that we will be working with the commissioner to have this safety measure completed in a timely manner.”
UPDATED: clarified sequence of events on July 20 & 21st.