BY LUIS GRONDA
Ridgewood residents voiced their opinions on plans for a pedestrian plaza in the neighborhood including bike racks and space to grow agriculture.
The second version of the Ridgewood pedestrian plaza was shown at a public workshop Monday night. The workshop gave residents and community leaders another chance to see what the Dept. of Transportation has in store for the plaza, which will be on 71st Avenue between Myrtle Avenue and Stephen Street.
This is the second public meeting the agency has hosted, in conjunction with the Dept. of Design and Construction and three engineering companies involved with the project, since it was announced last year.
Ryan Kovac, a representative from Mathews Nielsen, one of the companies involved with the project, said this version of their proposal changed many aspects of the plaza based on the public’s suggestions from the first workshop held earlier this year. This includes the call for more green space in Ridgewood, to make the plaza flexible to host community events and live concerts and the need for bike racks close to the space.
One thing they were not able to accommodate in the new design is to maximize the number of trees in the proposed plaza.
Kovac said the utility lines and water mains that run underground prohibit planting trees. He said the lines occupy almost the entire space and, therefore, cannot add more trees as part of the plan.
“It really goes back to, not all that long ago, this was a thru street and the utilities typically run down, if not the center, aligned within the curbs and within the streets,” he said.
However, they did heed several community requests, including expanded planting areas for flowers, two bicycle racks and a larger “buffer zone” between the plaza and Myrtle Avenue. There would be two gathering spaces for live performances, the primary space would be 900 square feet and the secondary area would be 450 square feet.
Ted Renz, Executive director of the Ridgewood Local Development Corporation and the Myrtle Avenue Business Improvement District, was happy overall with the proposal and the agencies listened to what the residents suggested for the plaza.
“We like that there’s space for community events…and by having an area for movable furniture, it allows for diversified entertainment and events,” he said.
One resident asked about possibly having wi-fi at the plaza. Renz said that they are looking into adding that to the space and it would be paid for by the BID.
A DOT spokesperson said the agency will present an updated plan to Community Board 5 next week.
Reach Luis Gronda at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 127, email@example.com, or @luisgronda.