Concerns and preferences over the proposed plaza, to be located at the intersection of Myrtle and Cooper avenues, were addressed at a Transportation Committee meeting on Thursday, June 28.
A large portion of the meeting was devoted to discussing the traffic implications that would result from this plaza. As the proposal suggests that it would cut off both 70th Street and 71st Street between Myrtle and Cooper avenues, there will be a number of turns that are currently possible that will no longer exist.
DOT representative Emily Weidenhof presented various alternative turnoffs that would enable vehicles to achieve the routes that will be removed. She also displayed the results of a traffic analysis that looked at how many vehicles currently travel on the affected roads and was optimistic that the plaza would not cause a great disruption.
“We feel that’s not a huge load to put on the other streets,” Weidenhof told the committee.
This proposal stems from the second round of selections for the DOT’s NYC Plaza Program, which aims to bring open space to communities that lack it.
The route will make the pedestrian walk around the intersection shorter by bringing out four points that will be connected with crosswalks and eliminating the small segments of 70th Street and 71st Street that border the intersection of Myrtle and Cooper Avenues.
The plaza will also feature trees and benches, as well as the World War I monument that already inhabits a small triangle there. Zum Stammtisch, a German restaurant that will sit right at the beginning of the proposed plaza, is seeking a permit for an outdoor café, which the DOT included as a possible feature of its design.
“It is a positive thing, it’s gonna be nice for the community,” said Werner Lehner, a co-owner of the restaurant. “A lot of the issues were hashed out. I mean traffic’s traffic, but most people will get used to it.”
The space in front of Zum Stammtisch would be suited for a large holiday tree in the winter, according to the DOT plan.
Further issues that the committee and members of the community brought up centered on the types of benches that would be installed and the lack of barriers other than a curb to prevent vehicles heading south on 70th Street from running onto the plaza.
Residents did not want benches that allow people to lie down on them, and DOT displayed its standard bench which has arm rests placed in a way that provides no long flat surface to lie on.
The community board will have further opportunity to finalize its approval of different aspects of the plan before DOT acts.
“Of course, there’s going to be issues, but in the end I still think that it’s going to be a good thing,” said Lehner. “I still think that it’ll work out for the best.”
The committee than heard a brief presentation of a proposed pedestrian plaza almost exactly one mile down Myrtle Avenue from the above plaza, at the intersection of 71st Avenue. DOT said that they would be seeking to erect a temporary plaza to see how the community likes it.