After years of studies, town halls, and collecting comments, it seems that the City Department of Transportation’s plan to redesign the infamous McGuinness Boulevard boiled down to one man – Mayor Eric Adams.
Streetsblog NYC reports that Adams has asked the DOT to rethink their previously chosen plan to redesign McGuinness, a plan that meant whittling down the major thoroughfare from four lanes to two. Though Adams had previously shown support for safer street measures as a former borough president, it seems that he has now yielded to the desires of major campaign donors and local business owners, the Argento family, who have donated more than $15,000 to his election campaign.
The Argento family, who owns the major film and TV production company, Broadway Stages, faced criticism from the community after reporting from THE CITY revealed that several businesses and LLCs listed as opposing the redesign had ties to Broadway Stages. The company recently hosted a town hall at one of its soundstages with DOT representatives and elected officials alike. Though Broadway Stages advertised the event as open to the public, several activists from an oppositional group were barred from entering the property, despite previously registering online as requested.
Aside from the Argento family, Streetsblog NYC reports that “Ingrid Lewis-Martin, one of the mayor’s closest advisers, also railed against the plan, according to the officials, who requested anonymity to share internal deliberations.”
In June, the New York Times reported that Lewis-Martin’s activities as an Adams advisor “raised ethical concerns, including her work to boost the mayor through political action committees funded by donors with business before the city.” Lewis-Martin has also fought against other Open Streets measures in Brooklyn. Streetsblog NYC also noted that the town hall meeting at Broadway Stages featured an appearance from Brooklyn Democratic Party leader and Assemblymember Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn, whose district does not overlap with North Brooklyn and to whom the Argento family has donated over $80,000 in campaign contributions. Hermelyn is a strong Adams supporter whose husband eventually resigned from a position in the Adams administration after questions arose about a potential conflict of interest.
Despite the mayor’s apparent change of heart, Assemblymember Emily Gallagher stated on Twitter that neither she nor any other North Brooklyn elected official had been contacted by the Mayor’s office or the City’s DOT. State Senator Julia Salazar, who represents parts of Greenpoint, Williamsburg, and Bushwick, also pushed back against the Mayor’s decision on Twitter.
It is unclear what the next steps for the redesign are. Adams called for “alternatives” to the plan, though this plan’s particular iteration was chosen after considering a number of options. The DOT previously stated its intentions to start work on the project later this year.