WILLIAMSBURG — Organizers kicked an MTA representative out of a public meeting called to discuss a possible L train shutdown, because he would not provide any information.
"We're not getting any answers, we're not getting any solid information," said Felice Kirby, the leader of a group of business owners, politicians and community groups called the L train coalition. "I don't think it's personal, I'm sure this gentleman is doing an excellent job of not telling us what we want to know."
"I'm glad you dared to be present, but we're not satisfied," Kirby said.
Andrew Inglesby, a liaison for the MTA, had been sent to listen to community concerns at the coalition's first public meeting held Thursday morning at Brooklyn Bowl. He wasn't expected to provide any further details about a potential shutdown, organizers said.
But when Inglesby wouldn't elaborate on what was wrong with the tunnel itself or offer a date for when the MTA would have more information, he was met with furor.
"Basically the problem is that we have Sandy repairs that we have to make in every tube, that's really all I'm going to say right now," Inglesby said. "Everyone knows we need to make repairs along the L line...and we're looking for a plan for that."
Frustrated with the lack of any specifics, a crowd member chimed in.
"That's not enough!" one shouted.
Organizers and audience pressed Inglesby for a timeline about when they might get more information from the agency, to no avail.
"Not at this time," Inglesby repeated, while rapidly tapping a pen on the desk in front of him.
"I don't know what [you've been] doing all this time!" a crowd member jeered.
"One of the reasons we have not come to the community immediately [is because]..we are looking internally and externally for as many mitigating factors,” he said.
The MTA says it needs to shut down L train service between Manhattan and Brooklyn in order to repair damages done to the Canarsie Tube during Hurricane Sandy, Kevin Ortiz, a spokesman for the MTA confirmed.
The repairs will take around 18 months if they do a full shutdown and about three years if the MTA repairs one tunnel at a time, Ortiz said.
Restaurants and stores that rely on tourists dollars and weekend traffic, real estate developers, businesses with offices in the area, not to mention the 200,000 commuters that rely on the train daily, stand to be adversely affected, according to community advocates.
"Obviously the MTA doesn't come close to grasp how serious of an impact it would have on the on the community...The response was absurd," said David Paul Kuhn, a resident and owner of a small real estate firm in the area. "The economic impact would be akin to a recession."
Politicians piggybacked on resident concerns that the MTA's failure to provide more details.
"[There's been a] total lack of communication," said Councilman Stephen Levin. "This kind of thing wouldn't fly if it was a city agency doing this."
After the meeting, the MTA released a statement saying the agency planned to continue working with the community.
"The MTA is looking for the best ways to mitigate the service disruptions and customer inconvenience that will result from this critical repair work," said spokesman John McKay, adding that 7 million gallons of brackish water flooded the Canarsie Tube during Hurricane Sandy submerging circuitry and tracks, making repairs essential.
"As we have made clear both prior to and at the meeting, we are committed to maintaining a dialog with the affected communities as we analyze the options. As the process moves forward we will continue to listen to ideas from our riders, local businesses and elected officials.”