By Lynn Edmonds
A proposed pedestrian plaza that had state senators feuding in August was up for discussion at a public workshop hosted by the City Department of Transportation last Thursday at the Korean Community Center in Flushing.
The proposed “Roosevelt Avenue Plaza” would be an extension of a Leonard Square, a tiny, triangular park sits in between the intersections of Northern Boulevard, Roosevelt Avenue and 155th Street in Murray Hill. If approved, it would mean turning the plaza at the very beginning of Roosevelt Ave, from where it branches off Northern Boulevard until 155th Street, into a pedestrian zone. The building that would be most affected by the change would be the Queens Library McGoldrick Branch.
The plaza idea came about when the Korean American Association of Queens put in an application with the DOT to make Leonard Square part of their plaza program, meant to create “public plazas that are active local destinations.” A DOT spokesperson said that there are currently about 15 such plazas operating in Queens. Diversity Plaza in Jackson Heights is one of the most well known.
Jamison Moon, executive director of the KAAQ, said he hoped the plaza would be a place for chess games and arts programming, as well as a public space where the elderly could rest or chat with friends. He said he had collected over 300 signatures from individuals in favor of the plaza.
But some of the participants at Thursday’s workshop did not think the plaza was a good idea.
Rhea O’Gorman, from the Station Road Civic Association, said she might have been in favor of a similar project in a crowded like Jackson Heights, but she didn’t think it made sense for a low-density, car-oriented place like Murray Hill.
“It’s not as big a deal to the average human being to have open space here,” she said.
Another resident felt the planning process had not been inclusive enough because she had not been informed about previous workshops. “I feel dis-invited because I wasn’t invited and I live two blocks away,” she said.
State Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) had rallied against the plaza in August with the local members of the Station Road Civic Association, the Broadway Flushing Homeowners Association, and the Auburndale Civic Association. But State Sen. Toby Stavisky (D-Flushing), Councilman Peter Koo (D-Flushing) and Councilman Paul Vallone (D-Bayside) have written letters to the DOT in favor of the project.
For now, residents seemed to be divided on the issue. The DOT said they would take feedback into consideration as they continued to evaluate the project.
Reach Lynn Edmonds at (718) 357-7400 x127, firstname.lastname@example.org or @Ellinoamerikana.