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Uh, oh! Shop ‘til you drop at Lowe’s - Some say that big box store’s parking lot is unsafe for pedestrians

Critics of the Lowe’s parking lot off 9th Street along the Gowanus Canal are stepping up efforts this week to try and convince store operators that the massive parking lot is fundamentally unfriendly to pedestrian shoppers. Carroll Gardens resident Vicki Devor said that she talks to other shoppers all the time from Red Hook to lower Park Slope who say the same thing – the absence of sidewalks, ramps or pathways around the store located at 118 2nd Avenue, make shopping a nightmare for consumers approaching on foot, in wheelchairs, with shopping carts or baby strollers. “It’s an accident waiting to happen,” Devor said. Jim Devor raised the issue once again last week at the Carroll Gardens Neighborhood Association. The couple have written to the store managers at both Lowe’s and the adjacent Pathmark supermarket located at 1-37 12th Street to request a meeting to discuss ways the situation might be remedied. So far, they have not received a response to their letter dated January 8. Pathmark manager Neil Fowler referred Courier inquires to the store’s corporate offices and Lowe’s said that store manager Mark Gullowtti was away on vacation. Community Board 6 District Manager Craig Hammerman said the Lowe’s site – originally a Forest City Ratner development – was planned without the benefit of community involvement. “Had they sought community involvement, a lot of these things could have been avoided,” Hammerman said. The 2nd Avenue home improvement center is the North Carolina-based box store’s first and only outlet in Brooklyn. “We are aware of the rural and suburban origins of Lowe’s, but we shop in Gowanus, not Garden City,” the Devors wrote in their letter to Lowe’s. “This is an urban environment where many of us do not operate or own an automobile. We would have thought that our pedestrian business would be worthwhile to you. Yet up to this point, we have not been accommodated.” Carroll Gardens Neighborhood Association President Maria Pagano said she saw pedestrians “zigzagging” their way to the big-box stores when she toured the site with the Devors and a representative from the DOT several weeks ago. “It was just amazing to see all of the types of people who use the space,” Pagano said. “They all did the same thing trying to find the shortest route from the driveway entrance to the stores.” Vicki Devor said that she has reserved further comment about the Lowe’s parking lot until now, anticipating that a suitable pedestrian pathway along the canal leading to the store would be constructed. That hasn’t happened, she said. As it is now, the Devors say that turning left at the 9th Street entrance deposits pedestrian shoppers directly in the line of vehicular traffic. “The first problem is that the building turns its back on the community,” Hammerman said. “The alignment doesn’t front on the street, it fronts on the Gowanus Canal.” Chronic flooding around the nearby MTA property also contributes to the area being “typically thought of as an uninviting environment,” the district manager added. Vicki Devor said that the Carroll Gardens Neighborhood Association attempted to point out potential problems for pedestrians from surrounding communities when Lowe’s first expressed interest in the property. Now, she said, Lowe’s should take a page out of Costco’s book and install pedestrian-accessible islands around the lot in an effort to help make shopping safer for consumers on foot. “Your operation should not – and need not – wait until someone is seriously injured,” the Devors told Lowe’s.

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