Streets are the networks that our communities are built upon. They provide safe routes in which people can travel by foot or by car. They also provide a framework in which buildings relate to each other, creating the public realm. This is how the average citizen experiences a sense of place. So it is a wonder why the Department of Public Works has the mandate to alter our means of transportation without presenting their ideas to the community at large before spending millions of dollars and changing the face of The Territory.
No one would argue against providing better pedestrian access between Kean High School and the Ferry Terminal in Red Hook, however, one could look at the past follies of the Department of Public Works as reason to pause. Veterans Drive is about as pedestrian friendly as a Nascar Racetrack, with its lack of trees, strictly engineered roadway and utilities, and disregard for the waterfront. This project just shows how utilitarian their past approaches to projects have been. And if these ideas had been presented to better minds, the ugliness of Veterans Drive could have been avoided and likely been made into a place that enhances the beauty of Downtown.
Let’s not make the same mistakes over and over again. Before we go ahead and spend a ton of money on “improving” our roadways, share with the community what your plans are.