On Aug. 21 at 5:30 p.m., Community Board 9 will hold a public meeting to discuss the Ozone Park Pedestrian Plaza, with the goal of finding a common ground between those who are for and against the plaza.
Last year, Community Board 9, the Bangladesh American Community Development and Youth Services Corporation applied for the plaza to be put in place. However, conflicts have risen in the past few months over the plaza, leading to CB 9 bringing both sides of the argument together.
“The idea is to let the people sort it out, they will discuss the pros and the cons, and then the DOT will be able to assess and satisfy them,” Ralph Gonzalez, chair of CB 9, said.
According to Misba Abdin, President of BACDYS, those who oppose the Plaza are local businesses. However, he said that the many people in the community support the Plaza. Abdin continued by saying that many locals in the community usually come out and sit in the Plaza after they come home from work in the evening.
“This is very unbelievable because there’s no other community space in this area,” he said.
Abdin is not the only one who feels this way. Iqbal Ali said that he has lived in Ozone Park for over 25 years.
“I grew up there for over 25 years I would know what it is like to have something like that,” Ali said. “It unites the people, gives them a community.”
He added that the local businesses who are complaining are mostly complaining about parking, which he feels can be fixed by just reducing the plaza.
Ali said that the plaza has been used to hold events.
“More events are being held over there, we have no place else to go. Every school program is filled with extra classes. This is another way for them to get together,” he said.
Although BACDYS is in support of the Plaza, they still understand the complaints that many people have against it. Chief operating officer of BACDYS, Dharma Diaz, said, “It’s a new project. It takes some getting used to and [I] think coming together will be constructive. We’ve taken community space, we’ve been creative to the space and I understand everyone’s opinion.”
The meeting for the Plaza will take place at Queens Borough Hall, located at 120-55 Queens Blvd., room 213. The meeting will begin at 5:30 p.m. For more information about the meeting, call CB 9 at (718) 286-2686.
— Esther Shittu