GETTING ON RIGHT TRACK IN B'KLYN
By GERSH KUNTZMAN
November 17, 2003 --
The Dodgers may never return, but the trolleys that gave
the team its name could be coming back to the streets of Brooklyn for the first
time in more than 40 years.
This stunning news was buried in a presentation made last week by the
Brooklyn Bridge Park Coalition, which is building a $150 million, 70-acre patch
of green along the Brooklyn waterfront.
The park is going to be magnificent - "One of the greatest urban parks in the
world!" according to Borough President Marty Markowitz - except for one flaw: It
winds 1.3 miles from Atlantic Avenue to Vinegar Hill.
Which is why a trolley would be perfect.
"A trolley would connect the southern and northern ends of the park," said
Michael Van Valkenburgh, who will be designing the park. "There's a guy in Red
Hook who has trolleys that would be perfect."
That "guy" is none other than Bob Diamond, who has been dreaming, begging,
petitioning, agitating and otherwise pining for a trolley that would link Red
Hook to Downtown Brooklyn.
Diamond sunk more than $400,000 and two decades into his dream - but
succeeded in sinking only a half-mile of trolley track.
He has two more miles of track - plus 17 working trolley cars - but they're
all about to be junked.
"I'd love to make them available - but I mean, like, immediately," Diamond
told The Post. "My landlord has given me until [today] or else he's going to
sell my cars for scrap."
You don't have to be an overpaid urban planner to see the appeal of a new
For one thing, it's historic (the name of the borough's celebrated baseball
team is a shortened form of the term "trolley dodgers").
For another, what's the use of spending $150 million on a park - or hundreds
of millions more on reviving Downtown Brooklyn - if no one can get around it?
The proposed trolley would run along Furman Street and under the Brooklyn
Bridge along Front Street.
With a little more vision - and a little more money - it could be extended to
Cadman Plaza, where six subway lines come together.
And you could complete the loop by having the trolley pass through the
long-abandoned tunnel under Atlantic Avenue to the river - a tunnel Diamond
discovered years ago.
"This is what I've been saying all along!" Diamond said. "But you know how it
is: Every person who was ahead of his time has always ended up jumping off a
bridge and being recognized after they're dead. I don't want that."