Last night Bob Diamond—the man responsible for rediscovering the old Atlantic Avenue tunnel—passed along some of these photos, telling us, "I had no idea this happened today... Greg O'Connell had them trucked off, that's his orange payloader dragging them out." Another local spotted them headed towards the BQE, noting, "Our beloved trolleys have been removed from Fairway."
O'Connell is part of the family that has been developing the Red Hook waterfront for many years, and is no stranger to criticism regarding his efforts. We contacted him to find out what's going on with the beloved old transportation fossils, and will update if we hear back. But we can't imagine they will never return—these hollowed out, aging trolleys are an aesthetically pleasing nod to the transit-starved neighborhood's rich history.
Diamond—who tells us O'Connell has not been supportive of a new trolley system—has been trying to resurrect Brooklyn's trolleys for years, and last year had hope that Mayor de Blasio would help his dream become reality.
UPDATE: Melissa Thornton tells us that when she was at Fairway yesterday she "talked to the driver of the first truck carting off the trolleys. He said they were headed to a scrap yard in the western part of the state. It was an alarmingly sad sight to see them being driven away." She added that even the driver "seemed glum about it." However, there's also a rumor (passed along to us by Diamond" that they may be headed to the Trolley Museum Of New York.
UPDATE, 4 p.m.: The O'Connell organization has released the following statement:
"This past weekend O’Connell Organization donated three trolley cars which were located on the company’s property adjacent to Fairway Market for a number of years. These trolley cars, along with a significant donation, were conveyed to the Branford Electric Railway Association, which operates the Shore Line Trolley Museum in East Haven, CT, an organization founded in 1945 dedicated to the preservation of the trolley car.
For more than a year, since Hurricane Sandy, The O’Connell Organization has been working with the BERA in order to find a home for these trolley cars. Unfortunately, the salt water that flooded the Brooklyn neighborhood of Red Hook during Hurricane Sandy did considerable damage to these trolleys, limiting the potential of finding a suitable organization to undertake their rebuild. The list of issues that arose post-Sandy with respect to these trolley cars includes rust, rotting, missing doors, frozen gear cases, destroyed windows and glass, and motors which were immersed in salt water. The O’Connell Organization continues to hope that these trolley cars will serve a purpose somewhere and have donated them to the BERA for this very reason. Rather than let these historic trolleys continue to sit stagnant, building up rust and rot in Red Hook , the O’Connell Organization has passed them on to BERA, which has the ability to rebuild them or at the very least can facilitate a transfer to someone that will."
Diamond, however, tells us the trolleys were not O'Connells to give away.—"They are ours (BHRA). In fact, for the past year, we've been reaching out to the O'Connells and Fairway, to get them on board with the restoration of these historic streetcars. Neither O'Connell nor Fairway ever got back to us." He added, "There's a fourth perfectly restored streetcar, the 3303, inside the Beard Street Pier building—what did he do with that one?"