A citywide program creating new public spaces is gaining momentum, but not without controversy. The new seating areas are eliminating established parking spaces. NY1's Jeanine Ramirez filed the following report.
The Blue Marble Ice Cream shop on Underhill Avenue in Prospect Heights wants parked cars out, and benches put in.
There's a rendering of the proposal in the ice cream shop along with a petition supporting the plan. But some Prospect Heights residents are organizing against it.
"There are a lot of objections. One, I don't find a need. They have a garden behind their store that they can use. Two, there's an absence of parking space in this area. It's really severe," said Brooks White, a neighborhood resident.
"We have more apartments coming but not more parking spaces. And we're already congested," said Kimtoya Williams, a neighborhood resident.
Blue Marble submitted the proposal under a Department of Transportation program called "Street Seats", which seeks to enhance neighborhoods with new public spaces.
There are now three 'Street Seat' sites in Brooklyn, including by Sky Ice in Park Slope. No table service is allowed, just seating.
Owner Jonathan Bayer says there was opposition when he applied to the program.
"Here we are with two less spots to use for parking so it rubbed people the wrong way. But that was brief and at this point we have more people who are really into it," Bayer said.
Bayer maintains the area from March until December then stores the street furniture for the winter, when drivers briefly reclaim the space. This spring, he decorated with planters growing mint and blueberries.
"We have this height in the back row to have this secluded effect when you're sitting there. Obviously it's a busy 5th Avenue behind you. But the plants will grow higher to give you this kind of private feel," he added.
The "Street Seats" program comes as the city has been eliminating thousands of parking spaces for bike lanes and Citi Bike racks -- changes that deeply upset many car owners. Now more spaces could go. The city says there are seven "Street Seats" applications pending in Brooklyn alone.
Blue Marble's application needs community board approval and that's where opponents plan to make their concerns heard.