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Cobblestones At Center Of Debate Over Planned DUMBO Construction

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- A five-year construction project in the DUMBO section of Brooklyn hasn't even started yet and already it's off to a rocky start.

It's the removal of the historical cobblestones that is causing the issues.

It was selfie time recently for Jakob Hravec and his girlfriend.

The two were visiting from the Czech Republic, and like many tourists they had to snap a photo in DUMBO and take in it's history. So, they were not happy to hear the city is looking to get rid some of it by removing cobblestones from many area streets.

"I think it should stay original, because it will take away the feeling," Hravec's girlfriend, Barbora, said.

Dumbo construction
Starting in the spring of 2019, the city will begin construction in the Dumbo section of Brooklyn. The plan has been met with mixed reviews because of the fate of the 19th century cobbblestones. (Photo: CBS2)

Other New Yorkers were using the area as a backdrop for their baby announcement.

"It wouldn't look the same, and most of New York doesn't look like this," Kim Nguyen said.

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Department of Transportation workers are getting ready to remove, clean and smooth out the stones that can be salvaged, and replace the others with new ones. The plan is drawing mixed reactions.

"They have history. They look really cool," one person said.

"It's good because it stops the speeding. No one is speeding here," another person said.

While one driver was all about the cobblestone roads, others said they were completely against them.

"I understand the history of DUMBO and all of that, but the cobblestone is messing up the cars. It's terrible," a Brooklyn resident named "P.J." said.

The city started the first phase of the project nearly a decade ago by smoothing the roads by Washington and Water streets. Now, it is looking to continue the process so it can add a plaza in Anchorage Place and make things handicap accessible, CBS2's Bauman reported.

Ulises Beato of the DUMBO Neighborhood Alliance said it is looking to compromise with the city, but want to preserve all the 19th century-old cobblestones. He said most of the buildings are land-marked but not the roads.

"Historically and aesthetically, totally off. Historically, the streets did not look like that whatsoever," Beato said. "That's why they are sort of able to modernize it, while keeping it cobble stones, in quotation marks, but its like Home Depot cobble stones."

So we have 19th century-old cobblestones causing a 21st century feud.

Construction is scheduled to begin in spring of 2019 and is expected to wrap up in spring of 2024.

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