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Brooklyn Children's Museum Wants Approval for $3.6M Parking Lot

By Sonja Sharp | January 7, 2014 3:05pm | Updated on January 8, 2014 11:59am
 The Brooklyn Children's Museum is adding a new parking lot.
The Brooklyn Children's Museum is adding a new parking lot.
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Facebook/Brooklyn Children's Museum

CROWN HEIGHTS — The Brooklyn Children's Museum is seeking approval to use $3.6 million in public funds to purchase space for a parking lot down the block from the facility, saying the lot is necessary to serve the thousands of families who arrive by car each year.

Museum officials hope to buy 906 Prospect Place — an unoccupied two-story building and parking lot just down the block from the institution — so that they can tear it down and build an expanded  31-space parking lot for museum visitors.

"Forty percent of our visitors drive," said Margaret Walton, director of government and community affairs for the Brooklyn Children's Museum, told Community Board 8 last week. "The museum has never had designated parking — visitors have always had to look for parking on the street."

Underground parking had been part of the plan for the museum's $80 million expansion, which was completed in 2008. But that portion of the construction was nixed over costs, Walton said. 

"There was not enough money to build it, and now with the building built it would be difficult if not impossible to build parking there," Walton said.

Community Board 8's Housing Committee offered advisory support for the plan on Jan. 2, and the full board will vote on Thursday. The proposal will then go through the city's uniform land use review procedure, allowing Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams and the City Council to weigh in.

Walton said she doesn't expect construction to begin for two to three years.

The Department of Design and Construction, which drew up plans for the lot, did not immediately return calls for comment. 

While the community board supported the plan, some members said they worried the lot was too small to alleviate the neighborhood's parking crunch and might actually cause more congestion than it cured.

"In the community, the schools, the religious institutions, there’s a dearth of parking, and my block has people who come from other blocks and park," said neighbor Desmond Atkins, a community board member who belongs to the block association along Bergen Street between Kingston and Brooklyn avenues.

"We struggle for parking," Atkins said, adding that he worried the new lot would further congest Prospect Place.

Others urged the museum to instead devote its time and energy toward improving public transportation in the area, something Walton said would be a hard sell for families loaded down with strollers.

"To be honest, encouraging public transportation to the museum is not easy — we’re a 15-minute walk from any subway station," Walton said. "We’re not a location where we can tell people just take the train...with your toddler and your kid in a stroller." 

Editor's Note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly attributed a quotation to Alton Pierce. In fact, the quotation was said by Desmond Atkins.