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MTA to Park Slope: If You Want Subway Elevators, Find $15 Million

By Leslie Albrecht | September 22, 2015 8:53am
 The MTA wants to add turnstiles, move the station agent and close long hallways at the Seventh Avenue F/G station in Park Slope.
MTA Proposes Renovations at Seventh Avenue Subway Station Park Slope
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PARK SLOPE — The MTA would be happy to install elevators at the Seventh Avenue subway station — if the neighborhood would just pony up $15 million for the job.

That's what MTA representatives told frustrated locals at a Community Board 6 meeting on Thursday where the agency unveiled plans for a $400,000 makeover at the Seventh Avenue stop.

Some locals voiced support for the MTA's proposed renovation, which would add more turnstiles and make for a speedier morning commute, but others grilled agency reps on when elevators will be installed for riders who need help climbing stairs — an American with Disabilities Act upgrade that Community Board 6 has been requesting for at least a decade, board members said.

"The ADA accessibility is a budget issue," Andrew Inglesby, MTA's assistant director of government and community relations, told Community Board 6 members. "If someone from the community can give us $15 million, we'll do it."

The cash-strapped MTA is on its way to installing elevators by 2020 at 100 "key stations," but the Seventh Avenue F/G stop isn't on that list, which was created in the 1980s, Inglesby said. The Seventh Avenue stop would need three elevators, and each would cost about $5 million, he said.

He said the agency would revisit the issue after 2020, but if locals want elevators, they should start advocating now. "I would suggest to keep those petitions coming," Inglesby said.

In the meantime, riders could see many changes at the Seventh Avenue stop if the MTA board approves the proposed renovation.

The Community Board 6 transportation committee reluctantly approved the renovation proposal, but on the condition that MTA return within a year with a plan on how to make Park Slope's subway stations more accessible to disabled riders.

There will be a public hearing on the renovation plan later this fall; it hasn't been scheduled yet.

The proposed overhaul would move the the station's agent booth from the middle of the station to the Seventh Avenue side, change the number and type of turnstiles, and close the long passageways that connect Seventh and Eighth avenues.

Right now the station's agent booth is in the center of the long passageway on the mezzanine level and riders must walk several hundred feet to reach it. Most customers don't even realize the booth is there, MTA's David Haase told Community Board 6.

The renovation would close the mezzanine's long corridors and move the agent booth to the Seventh Avenue side of the station, where 65 percent of riders enter, according to the MTA.

With the station agent moved to the Seventh Avenue side, the MTA would then close the mezzanine passageway that connects Seventh and Eighth avenues for security reasons, Inglesby said.

That means riders would no longer be able to enter at the Eighth Avenue side to reach the station booth. Instead they would have to walk above ground to Seventh Avenue to do so.

"I'm sure the community would be up in arms if we kept the passageways open and we started to see a rash of crimes," Inglesby said. "We think the security and safety issues far outweigh the number of customers that will be inconvenienced."

The move to add more turnstiles got positive reviews at Thursday's meeting. Locals had tried to get more turnstiles funded with City Councilman Brad Lander's participatory budgeting program last year, but the idea didn't get enough votes to win funding.

Right now there are four tall turnstiles on the Eighth Avenue side. The renovation would keep two of those and replace two with four waist-high turnstiles. The Eighth Avenue entrance would also get a "Help Point" — an intercom that connects riders to the station clerk.

On the Seventh Avenue side, four waist-high turnstiles would be added to augment the two existing tall turnstiles.

Bob Nelson, who spearheaded the bid to add more turnstiles through participatory budgeting, said he watched riders during morning rush hour and saw people "lined up" at the tall, slow-moving turnstiles on the Seventh Avenue side.

"They can't make their train because they can't get through fast enough," Nelson said.