Tag Archives: Corona Plaza

Public art project to celebrate Queens’ diversity


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photos by Fumi Nakamura

A new public art project is shining light on the diversity of the borough through stories captured in movement.

“MOVE WITH US” is a video created by artists Roshani Thakore from Elmhurst and Fumi Nakamura from Jackson Heights after they visited public spaces throughout Queens over the summer and photographed a total of 167 immigrants creating personal poses.

The final video, set to premiere next week, is a sequence of the images capturing “the most diverse borough in the nation,” according to the artists.

“We try to connect each individual with each pose and I feel like it’s kind of an archive of 2014 in Queens and the people who are making it the more diverse place in the nation,” Thakore said.

The project, funded by the Queens Council on the Arts (QCA), is scheduled to premiere on Nov. 7 at QCA located at 37-11 35th Ave. in Astoria.

Being a dance teacher of an Indian dance class at the Long Island City YMCA, Thakore felt that participants would be able to translate their personal experiences through body movements.

During the summer, Thakore and Nakamura visited public spaces, like the LIC YMCA and Corona Plaza, and spoke with residents in the spaces about living in Queens and their backgrounds. They also received help from a lot of volunteers from local groups.

Once the residents got comfortable, they would be asked to do unique poses expressing themselves and their stories and then Nakamura snapped the photos to capture the movements.

In one example, a man living in Corona shared his story on having worked on a sugar cane field in Mexico. During the conversation he started to do the movement he would do while cutting the canes and this was photographed as part of the project.

“It’s more about listening in a public space to a person’s story. Really understanding who our neighbors are, who are the community members and who makes up Queens,” Thakore said. “In terms of the project, originally it was being proud of your culture but the surprise that came out of it was being proud to be in Queens — Queens pride.”

Originally from Georgia and a daughter of immigrants from India, Thakore said there was not a lot of diversity in Georgia and not a lot of public resources. However, when she made the move to Queens, she said she was able to experience different parts and public institutions of the borough, especially through teaching dance.

“I really feel like in Queens I came home, because of the diversity and opportunities,” Thakore said.

Thakore added that, for both her and Nakamura, experiencing the diversity in Queens daily was what “fired up” the work on the project.

Although the actual video has no music, during its premiere at the Queens Council on the Arts, there will be music and food. All 167 participants of the project were invited to the event.

The premiere, which is free and open to the public, is scheduled from 6 to 9 p.m. To RSVP, click here.

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New organization created to unify merchants around Corona Plaza


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy Friends of Corona Plaza

A group of Corona merchants have come together to create a unified voice for a beloved pedestrian plaza.

Earlier this month commercial stakeholders around Corona Plaza, an open public plaza located on Roosevelt Avenue between National and 104th streets, came together to talk about ideas that could help business and improve quality of life for pedestrians and merchants alike.

The group then decided to create a new organization called Friends of Corona Plaza with the purpose of bringing together all the commercial tenants to create a brighter future for the space.

“The goal is to have all the merchants, [such] as myself, to be unified as one voice,” said Edgar Gutierrez, store manager at the Walgreens located at 103-14 Roosevelt Ave., who was elected as president of the organization. “We want to have all the merchants as one and have one voice for all of Corona Plaza. We want to make sure [the merchants] are aware of what is going on in the plaza.”

The group also elected Pastor Victor Tiburcio of Aliento de Vida Church, located at 103-12 Roosevelt Ave., as vice president and Diego Ratzlaff, a physician’s assistant at Procare Health & Wellness, located at 40-03 National St., as secretary.

“What we want to do is unify the commercial tenants,” Ratzlaff said. “We want to be here, we work here, we are here daily. We want to advocate for Corona Plaza so it could be a great experience for the people who work and live here. We want more people to come in, and the more people that come in, the more business.”

Members of the group have been reaching out to other merchants to let them know about Friends of Corona Plaza, according to Gutierrez.

During the organization’s meeting in July, Gutierrez said the group plans on discussing its support for the expansion of the Jackson Heights-Corona Business Improvement District and also the Department of Transportation’s planned renovation project for Corona Plaza slated to begin early 2015.

“We want to touch base on the construction of the plaza and how will it affect the merchants in the area,” Gutierrez said.

The date and location for the next meeting of Friends of Corona Plaza are still pending.

The DOT did not immediately respond to request for comment.

 

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Op-ed: The spirit of giving


| oped@queenscourier.com

COUNCILMEMBER JULISSA FERRERAS

Every year, the holiday day season gives us an extra special opportunity to reflect upon our blessings and take time to give back to those we love.

With Chanukah just ending and Christmas and Kwanzaa fast approaching, it’s clear that the spirit of giving is already in the air – almost everywhere you look you see folks with shopping bags full of holiday presents just waiting to bring joy.

While I have always found truth in the age-old saying “Tis better to give than to receive,” I could not help but relish the happiness that one sizable gift brought to our community last week.

On November 26, just days before Thanksgiving, I had the pleasure of joining Department of Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan and representatives from the Queens Museum and the Queens Economic Development Corp. at Corona Plaza to announce an $800,000 leadership gift from J.P. Morgan Chase to the Neighborhood Plaza Partnership.

This gift will not only benefit countless New Yorkers by creating 100 jobs for workers maintaining 20 of the City’s existing plazas, but it will also ensure that the DOT’s community partners in under-resourced neighborhoods, like Corona, will have the support they need to maintain clean, green and vibrant public plazas.

Since 2008, the DOT has installed 22 plazas throughout the City, and it plans to bring another 37 in the near future with the goal of putting all New Yorkers within a 10-minute walk of quality open space.

Corona Plaza is a perfect example of how effective and important these green spaces are to our local neighborhoods. To so many children who grow up in apartments without any front or back yards, neighborhood plazas are the only safe access they have to the outdoors.

Just 18 months ago, the site where Corona Plaza now sits was open to traffic and cluttered with parked trucks, causing a safety hazard for all pedestrians entering and exiting the nearby subway platform. Today, the plaza is a space bursting with activity, serving as the go-to destination where locals can have a cup of coffee, exercise outdoors and enjoy free family-friendly events.

Public plazas go a long way in helping our communities enhance economic activity, air quality, community safety and the overall quality of life.

Although Chase’s gift will undoubtedly go a long way in improving plazas throughout the City, it’s clear that there is still much work that needs to be done. The cost just to maintain Corona Plaza alone ranges between $50,000 and $75,000 every year, not including the hundreds of volunteer hours donated by those who want to add to the beautification efforts.

This holiday season, I urge everyone to spend time at their nearest neighborhood plaza and consider the immense benefits they generate. If you can spend just a fraction of your time investing in your local plaza, you will not only help improve these vital green spaces, but you will also create a better future for generations to come.

In the spirit of giving, please consider volunteering at your local plaza today. The gift of your time will surely be one that keeps on giving!

To learn more about the services offered by the DOT Public Plaza Program, please visit www.nyc.gov/plazas or contact 311 or plazas@dot.nyc.gov.

Councilmember Julissa Ferreras represents the 21st Council District encompassing Elmhurst, East Elmhurst, Corona and Jackson Heights. Through her leadership, Corona Plaza continues to be a premiere outdoor destination for the local community.

 

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Corona to benefit from $800K Chase gift to Neighborhood Plaza Partnership


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Councilmember Julissa Ferreras’ Office

Corona Plaza has received a helping hand, along with other public plazas around the city,  to become cleaner, greener and part of the community.

Councilmember Julissa Ferreras gathered with local representatives, Department of Transportation (DOT) Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan and residents on Tuesday to announce an $800,000 leadership gift from Chase to the Neighborhood Plaza Partnership (NPP).

The gift allows the DOT’s community partners in under-resourced neighborhoods to have the support to keep public plazas clean, green and vibrant for the communities.

“Because our community deserves the same kind of public amenity as any other, we have rallied around the Plaza Program and this site for more than five years,” said Ferreras. “The Queens Economic Development Corporation has forged a wonderful partnership with the Queens Museum of Art to provide countless free programs and events year-round to hundreds of local residents. Their donated time and energy has truly made Corona Plaza one of the best public spaces anywhere in New York City. We are delighted that, thanks to Chase, the excellent service NPP provides here will expand to our sister plazas in other parts of Queens and across the City.”

The NPP gives the community partners affordable, high-quality plaza maintenance and horticulture care through The Horticultural Society (The Hort) and The Association of Community Employment Programs for the Homeless (ACE NY). Together with Chase, the NPP helps create jobs and will work to make sure the DOT Plaza Program grows in all five boroughs.

The November 26 announcement included music from La Cumbiamba and activities from the Uni Pop-Up Library. Students from P.S. 16 in Corona spent the morning gardening and released ladybugs to show the “transformative power of neighborhood plazas.”

Ferreras also presented Edgar Gutierrez, store manager of the local Walgreens, with the “Daily Point of Light” award from the Points of Light Foundation for his volunteering and efforts to promote Corona Plaza.

“Corona Plaza is the perfect place to announce this visionary philanthropic gift from Chase, and to bestow a national award for volunteerism on Mr. Edgar Gutierrez – one of our many unsung heroes,” said Ferreras.

 

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Potential plans for Corona Plaza released


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Renderings courtesy of The RBA Group

Corona residents and business owners got a first look into the future of Corona Plaza.

Before 2012, Corona Plaza, located on Roosevelt Avenue between National and 104th Street, was a busy area filled with trucks, traffic and no open space. After the Queens Economic Development Corporation (EDC) partnered with the Queens Museum, Councilmember Julissa Ferreras and other local groups, the plaza became an open public space allowing residents and visitors to sit down and relax.

Although the public space was expected to be temporary, in March the Department of Transportation (DOT) met with the community to introduce first plans and designs for keeping and improving Corona Plaza as a public space.

During this meeting the public gave its input as to what they wanted to add to the plaza and picked the best initial design from three options.

“We want the community to feel like this is their spot and they helped build it,” said David Strauss, director of external Affairs and Capital Projects of the Queens Museum, which has been working close with the community to receive continuous, direct input.

The DOT and design firm The RBA Group met with the community for a second time on August 24, during the plaza’s one year celebration, to debut two options of the first renderings of the future Corona Plaza.

“We really wanted that second meeting to be outside and allow the people to come up and give their input,” said Prerana Reddy, director of public events at the Queens Museum. “I feel like we’re hearing the same things over and over, so it feels like we got it. People were excited about it.”

Some of the ideas that were included in the renderings were plaza seating, bicycle racks and corrals, a stage for cultural performances, green area, benches, additional trash cans, signage, improved lighting for security, utilizing the space under the No. 7 train for storage, an information/storage kiosk and a drinking fountain.

“Corona Plaza is a vision that the community and I had shared for several years,” said Ferreras. “Since its creation, it has only continued to attract more and more visitors who are seeking a place to meet friends, enjoy a cup of coffee and take in the rich diversity that is our district. As additional plans for the plaza continue to unfold, it is my hope that Corona continues to thrive and becomes a must-see destination for New Yorkers and tourists alike.”

The DOT and design firm will now present the renderings to the city’s Public Design Commission in the next couple of months. According to Reddy, the earliest the community will see the new plaza would be by 2015.

 

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