Outcry Over Placement of Citibike Stations: Concerns Go Far Beyond Aesthetic

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The Department of Transportation (DOT) and CitiBank have plans to install a CitiBike rental station in a SoHo memorial park, a park which commemorates four individuals who died in a fire, sacrificing their lives to save others'. This decision has been to the dismay-and outright anger-of many community members, and it's not the first incident of outrage directed the DOT over proposed CitiBike placements. (by Alissa Fleck) Father Fagan Park (corner of Prince St. and Sixth Ave.), according to a SoHo Alliance press release, is named for Father Richard Fagan formerly of nearby St. Anthony's Church, who gave his life in a rectory fire while rescuing two people. The park also contains three pear trees, which commemorate three firefighters who died in the line of duty, extinguishing a 1994 "SoHo blaze." Community Board 2, of which the park is a part, also ranks extremely low in terms of city green space, the Alliance reports. The board asked the DOT not to further burden the area's limited green space with cumbersome bike rental stations. The DOT has ignored all community and political pleas and remains steadfast in their decision, says the Alliance. Further, the Alliance calls the department's actions "thick-headed, arrogant and disrespectful." St. Anthony Church Pastor Father Joseph Lorenzo said he hopes the DOT will opt not to cheapen the park with the rental station. This is not the first time proposed CitiBike placement has been met with vigorous opposition. NY Press previously reported on plans to install docking stations in Dag Hammarskjöld Plaza across from the United Nations building. Opponents said it would disrupt the atmosphere of the plaza and create unnecessary congestion. Victoria Weil, president of Friends of Bogardus Garden, was also not happy about the station planned for the pedestrian plaza at Chambers and Reade Streets her group oversees. She told the Tribeca Trib she saw accidents on the horizon in the small, already cluttered space. A member of Community Board 1, which encompasses Duane Park, said the proposed station for that park would "ruin the whole aesthetic." While the DOT spent months listening to community concerns, Kate Fillin-Yeh, director of the Bike Share program, told CB1 they were trying to install a station every 1,000 feet, which does not leave a lot of space for dissent. The Tribeca Trib reports there is a great deal of controversy over whether the DOT and Bike Share program actually listened to community concerns and took the most contested docking stations off the to-build list. NY Press reached out to CitiBike to find out how they had addressed community concerns, and whether they thought every proposed area would ultimately rally a certain amount of opposition. The Press did not immediately hear back on these questions.

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