Tag Archives: BACDYS

Changes coming to controversial Ozone Park pedestrian plaza


| slicata@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Salvatore Licata

controversial pedestrian plaza in Ozone Park will be downsized following complaints from local business owners.

Due to community outreach programs to address the concerns of the plaza, which is located on Drew Street and 101st Avenue, the Department of Transportation (DOT) is removing a portion of the plaza to restore metered parking along the block, a DOT spokeswoman said.

The plaza was installed about a year ago and is run and maintained by the Brooklyn based nonprofit Bangladeshi American Community Development and Youth Services (BACDYS). Once in place, it took up about nine parking spaces and cut off two-way traffic on 101st Avenue.

But giving back the parking spots is fine with Darma Diaz, the chief operating officer at BACDYS, if it makes for a more positive working relationship with the store merchants.

“We want this to be a positive part of the community,” Diaz said. “Of course you want more space, but we are more about having peace with the community.”

Business owners have complained that since it was installed, their businesses have had one of the worst years ever.

“This plaza has totally crippled my business,” said Ahmad Ubayda, owner of the 99 Cent Ozone Park Discount Hardware store on the corner of the block, back in July when The Courier first reported on it. “This has been my worst year of business because they took away parking spaces for my customers but aren’t even using [that area of the plaza].”

The portion of the plaza along 101st Avenue that the DOT will be removing is the least used part of it. Most of the tables, chairs and umbrellas are not put in that area, but are placed on Drew Street, where it once crossed over from 101st Avenue to Liberty Avenue.

plaza

But some stores still want the whole plaza removed because they feel the two-way traffic is necessary.

“I won’t be happy unless the whole thing is gone,” said one worker at the 99 cent store. “We need two-way traffic again.”

The removal of the portion of the plaza along 101st Avenue will take place by the end of the year, weather permitting, according to the DOT spokeswoman.

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Residents and business owners lock horns over Ozone Park plaza


| slicata@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Salvatore Licata

Supporters of the controversial Ozone Park pedestrian plaza defended the space during a meeting about the plaza’s future, calling it an oasis in a neighborhood that is starved of public space.

But others said the plaza, located on Drew Street and 101st Avenue, is detrimental to business owners who feel that the loss of parking and the cut-off of two-way traffic is causing sales to drop.

“We wanted to create an open environment for the community,” said Darma Diaz, chief operating officer for the Bangladesh American Community Development and Youth Services Corporation (BACDYS), which is responsible for the upkeep of the plaza. “This plaza gives the opportunity for the community to have a place to go.”

She noted that public space is so minimal in the area that children have to use the nearby municipal meter lot, located at Elderts Lane and Glenmore Avenue in Brooklyn, for activities.

“This is the only place we have in our neighborhood where children could get together,” said one attendee of the Aug. 21 meeting at Queens Borough Hall. “We have never had a place for us to get together [until the plaza].”

But Khemraj Sadoo, owner of Super Clean Laundromat, located on the same street as the plaza, said there is viable space just two blocks down on Elderts Lane in Brooklyn and wants the plaza moved.

“We need the plaza moved,” Sadoo said. “Who will accept such a plaza in front of his face with such loss of business?”

The plaza was first put in the area in the fall of 2013. Originally it was only designed to take up the tiny intersection of Drew Street where vehicles were once able to turn from Liberty Avenue to 101st Avenue. But Dalila Hall, DOT commissioner for Queens, said when the department came to assess the area they came to the conclusion that part of 101st Avenue would also have to be used for the plaza, which now has taken away parking spaces for customers.

Hall said the DOT did realize that many parking spaces were cut off, which is why they implemented a municipal meter on the Liberty Avenue side of Drew Street recently. She says with the introduction of the metered parking there is only a net loss of one or two parking spots.

But business owners say they need more than just the parking spaces back to survive. Restoration of two-way traffic and the removal of garbage were other top priorities for those who were against the plaza.

“We need two-way traffic back,” Sadoo said. “All the garbage from the plaza flies into my Laundromat. I have tickets from the city.”

Hall said the department is working with the Department of Sanitation (DSNY) for more frequent pick-ups of garbage. The DSNY picks up twice a week in the plaza now, but Hall is hoping to increase that number to keep litter minimal.

Giving two-way access to the street again would mean the plaza would either have to be placed entirely on the sidewalk or be moved elsewhere. Issues such as that will have to be looked at more deeply, Hall said.

“We need to take this information in as an agency to see if more can be done to address everyone’s concern,” Hall said. “We will listen to both sides of course.”

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Ozone Park plaza getting makeover


| slicata@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photos by Salvatore Licata

A pedestrian plaza in Ozone Park that has become a detriment to local business is getting a makeover, according to the community group charged with maintaining it.

Shortly after The Courier published an article on the forlorn plaza at 101st Avenue and Drew Street, the Bangladesh American Community Development and Youth Services (BACDYS) organization placed a sign in the plaza announcing a re-make of the plaza.

There have already been changes made. BACDYS has scheduled an event for the plaza on Aug. 21 and also added umbrellas and chairs to better accommodate locals.

The sign hung up in the plaza reads, “A new plaza is proposed here,” and there is a meeting planned by Community Board 9 to discuss further solutions.

“When Community Board 9 voted in favor of the pedestrian plaza, we did so with the understanding that we would monitor the plaza’s local impacts and keep an eye on whether it remained an asset to the community,” CB 9 chairman Ralph Gonzalez said. “With this meeting, we hope to give all sides of this discussion a seat at the table, and we are aiming to arrive at the best resolution possible.”

Local business owners complained about the plaza because of the number of parking spaces it took up on 101st Avenue and Drew Street.

The meeting will be held on Aug. 21 at Queens Borough Hall at 4:30 p.m. Expected to attend are representatives from Community Board 9; the Department of Transportation’s Queens Borough Commissioner, Dalila Hall; representatives from the BACDYS organization and merchants from the area who have complained about the plaza.

 

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Ozone Park street plaza not living up to expectations


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Salvatore Licata

SALVATORE LICATA

It started out as a beautification and community development project, but a pedestrian plaza on the Brooklyn-Queens border is an eyesore that is detrimental to business, locals say.

Five parking spots were permanently removed last November when the Department of Transportation (DOT) built the plaza at Drew Street and 101st at City Line.

“This plaza has totally crippled my business,” said Ahmad Ubayda, owner of the 99 Cent Ozone Park Discount Hardware store on the corner of the block. “This has been my worst year of business because they took away parking spaces for my customers but aren’t even using them.”

The site has deteriorated since its opening, locals charged.

Four tables and 12 chairs set up in a small section of the plaza while most of the space isn’t used.

Initial plans called for ample seating space, permanent bench seating and bike parking. When the plaza was first built there were plenty of chairs and tables, some even with umbrellas.

But a few weeks after its grand opening much of the furniture, which was chained up to a nearby light pole, was stolen and it hasn’t been fully replaced since, according to residents.

Now the plaza has just four tables, 12 chairs, two permanent benches and no bike parking space.

Moreover, the Bangladesh American Community Development and Youth Services Corporation (BACDYS), a local nonprofit organization, is responsible for the plaza’s upkeep, according to the DOT. Yet garbage overflowed from several cans and littered the floors on Monday.

BACDYS, which teamed up with the DOT to create the plaza, got support from local businesses and from Community Board 9 of Queens and Community Board 5 of Brooklyn before they went through with the project.

Many of the businesses on the strip did agree to the proposed idea under the impression that it would be good for the growth of their stores.

Photo courtesy of DOT

But Ubayda said it has done the exact opposite for his, which has put his store and livelihood in limbo.

Steve Melnick, a former resident of the area, shared his concern at the meetings that were held for the plaza before it was built. He said this plaza is nothing like it was planned.

“This [plaza] is something that this nonprofit group wanted but they are not following through,” Melnick said. “As tax payers, we have the right to know what’s going on with the property.”

Mary Ann Carey, District Manager of Community Board 9, has reached out to the DOT about the plaza, according to a spokeswoman from the board, but it is not yet known if they have responded.

A phone number for BACDYS was not accepting calls; there was no answer at another number for the group.

The DOT also did not immediately respond for comment.

 

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Ozone Park could be home to new pedestrian plaza


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Maggie Hayes / Renderings courtesy of the DOT

A pedestrian plaza could be coming to an area of Ozone Park the Department of Transportation (DOT) said is under-utilized and in need of more open space.

The Bangladeshi American Community Development & Youth Service (BACDYS) applied to create a plaza at the intersection of Liberty Avenue and 101st Avenue near Drew Street, just on the Brooklyn-Queens border.

The plan already has the support of Brooklyn Community Board (CB) 5, as well as area businesses in both boroughs and local elected officials, including Councilmember Eric Ulrich, according to the DOT. Community Board (CB) 9 will vote on the proposal next month.

 

“The project would provide additional open space, serving pedestrians and customers of local businesses,” said a DOT spokesperson.

However, reservations still exist for CB 9.

The plaza would close off the Drew Street through-way from 101st Avenue to Liberty Avenue and would also change both streets from two-way to one-way. Eleven parking spots would also be lost.

Mary Ann Carey, CB 9’s district manager, said these are the “biggest issues” for the board.

“Why didn’t they choose a much a much larger plaza,” she asked, pointing to the space near Elderts Lane and Liberty Avenue just a few blocks down.

She continued that now the board is “just fact finding” and preparing for next month’s vote.

The DOT said this particular proposed area has an active retail business and existing open space, and is being under-utilized.

If approved, BACDYS would be responsible for the upkeep of the public plaza, which anyone can visit and also apply to hold events.

The plaza, whose cost was unclear as of press time, would be made up of gravel, granite blocks, planters, flexible delineators, movable tables and chairs, benches, permanent bench seating and bike parking, similar to other city plazas.

After the CB 9 vote, the DOT projects a potential implementation in late September. Public outreach for a permanent plaza design would then begin in the spring of 2014.

 

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