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Youth Soccer League Demands Traffic Safety Upgrades Near Waterfront Parks

By Meredith Hoffman | October 30, 2013 8:57am
 Coaches of the FC Select youth soccer league are demanding the city add traffic safety measures to protect their players.
Coaches of the FC Select youth soccer league are demanding the city add traffic safety measures to protect their players.
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Jamies Zeppernick

WILLIAMSBURG — After a 12-year-old chasing a ball was struck by a van in Park Slope this month, youth soccer league director Jamie Zeppernick realized the danger his own players face simply getting to practice every day.

Kent Avenue, the street they cross to reach their Williamsburg waterfront field, is filled with trucks and fast cars — but no crosswalks or stop signs, Zeppernick said he noticed.

"The city didn't plan well for pedestrians, which doesn't make any sense at all since there are parks," he said of the crossings to Bushwick Inlet Park and East River State Park. "And what does a park attract? People, kids."

Now Zeppernick and his league FC Select — which includes about 300 members who use Bushwick Inlet Park's field weekly — are demanding that speed bumps or other traffic safety measures be placed at the intersections of Kent Avenue with North Eighth, North Ninth and North 10th streets.

Their online petition has garnered nearly 500 signatures and has prompted local Assemblyman Joseph Lentol to ask the city for these safety measures.

“Clearly, the number of people who utilize the park on a weekly basis warrants some form of traffic control device at these intersections to ensure their safety,” Lentol said in an announcement of his request. “Not only is Kent Avenue a heavily traveled roadway by motorists, it is also a truck route — further adding to the dangerous nature of the roadway.”

People flock to the Brooklyn Flea and Smorgasburg in East River State Park, and even more people have flocked to the riverfront since Bushwick Inlet Park recently opened.

There were no serious accidents at the relevant intersections from 2007 to 2011, the latest period for which data was available, a spokesman for the Department of Transportation said. No one has been killed there since 2007, he said.

Even if there hasn't recently been a major crash, the city is responsible for protecting residents at the heavily trafficked crossings, Zeppernick said.

"There's an accident waiting to happen," he said. "We've been saying that every day without a solution is a day too late."