After months of negotiating, the Douglaston community will soon see its first street plaza.
Community Board 11 voted on Monday, June 16, to approve the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) plan to implement the plaza near the LIRR station on 41st Avenue in July. The agency will extend the sidewalk into the turnaround where 235th Street and 41st Avenue meet to create the public plaza, while saving the traffic loop — which was a deal-breaker with the community.
The Douglaston Local Development Corporation (LDC) contacted the DOT last year for the street plaza, hoping that it would revitalize the businesses in the community by giving pedestrians a place to walk and rest while shopping and eating.
“I don’t think it’s going to be an instant solution,” said Dorothy Matinale, president of the Douglaston Village Chamber of Commerce and a board member of the LDC. “We’ve spent the last five years trying to figure out what we can do. Now, there will be some actual fruits of our labor.”
The plan eliminates about seven parking spaces, but adds 3,000 square feet of public space, new crosswalks, plants, umbrellas with movable tables and chairs, plants and granite blocks.
The LDC will be charged with maintaining the new plaza, and they plan to do so through fundraisers and private donations.
Despite the enthusiasm surrounding the plaza by many, some in the community voiced their opposition and concern. They fear traffic in the turnaround, which will be narrower after its makeover, could be slowed or backed up.
“It appears to me that there will be enough room in the turnaround for one car to turn around and leave,” said Eliot Socci, a resident of the neighborhood for 35 years and Douglaston Civic Association president. “By clipping the edges it might back up the traffic.”
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