Tag Archives: Neighborhood Plaza Partnership

Corona Plaza becomes first public plaza in Queens with free Wi-Fi

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras' office

Visitors to Corona Plaza this summer will be able to surf the net while enjoying some sun.

Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras announced Monday morning that Corona Plaza, located on Roosevelt Avenue between National and 104th streets, will be the first plaza in Queens to offer residents and visitors free WiFi, along with two AT&T StreetCharge stations.

This service is provided by the Neighborhood Plaza Partnership, a citywide program to help plazas flourish in high-need communities.

“Corona Plaza is a booming community space deserving of all the amenities. I am thrilled to have these free services that will increase Internet access and eliminate the digital divide for thousands of people in this neighborhood,” Ferreras said.

Sky-Packets, which brings high-speed Wi-Fi services to about 30 neighborhoods throughout the city, will provide the Wi-Fi service at the plaza. Corona Plaza’s service will accommodate several hundred users at any given time.

AT&T has also donated the two solar-powered mobile charging stations to Corona Plaza for the summer and each unit can charge up to six phones, tablets or other wireless devices.

“The new tech amenities at Corona Plaza are another milestone in the transformation of this former street space into an even more inviting destination for residents and visitors alike,” said DOT Queens Borough Commissioner Nicole Garcia.

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

Corona Plaza is now one of 70 DOT pedestrian plazas throughout New York City and on average about 20,000 people go through the subway station by the plaza every day.

“In many parts of the city, free Wi-Fi and charging stations are now expected amenities, while in high-need areas they’re a luxury. Bringing this service to Corona Plaza is one of several ways in which we work to ensure that clean, beautiful, vibrant public spaces flourish in every kind of community,” said Laura Hansen, managing director of Neighborhood Plaza Partnership, a program of The Horticultural Society.


Video: Queens residents share how to say ‘I love you’ in seven languages

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Screenshot via YouTube

The first video of a series, looking to bringing awareness to public plazas throughout the city, gives a taste of the different ways Queens residents say “I love you,” just in time for Valentine’s Day.

The Neighborhood Plaza Partnership, a nonprofit organization of The Horticultural Society of New York, released the YouTube video “How to Plaza like a New Yorker Tip #1: Say ‘I Love You,’” two days before the Feb. 14 holiday.

In the video, which takes place at Diversity Plaza, officially called 37th Road Plaza, in Jackson Heights and was filmed by P2Films, people are asked how they say “I love you” in languages other than English.

The clip features people speaking in seven out of the 138 languages spoken in Queens. The languages featured are Farsi, Bangla, Hungarian, Italian, Urdu, Basaa and Tibetan.

Almost all the people in the video were just walking by the plaza during the filming and were asked if they would participate in the project.

“Everybody was just on their way, coming and going, and we just tried to stop people and asked if they spoke another language other than English and if they wanted to teach others how to say ‘I love you,’” said Micaela Birmingham of P2Films. “It was just fascinating to stand on one block and have all these voices pass by.”

Although seven languages are featured in the video, filmmakers encountered more than a dozen languages during the two to three hours at the site.

“These days you always have people on the street asking you to do something,” Birmingham added. “I was just so happy that people were generous enough to take a few minutes.”

This “how to” video is the first of a series by the Neighborhood Plaza Partnership, which will highlight activities that might already be happening at plazas throughout the five boroughs and showcase the neighborhoods surrounding them.

“I love this video,” Councilman Daniel Dromm said. “Queens and especially Jackson Heights is a mix of languages and cultures. This video is a sweet way to showcase our diversity and Diversity Plaza. Hats off to Neighborhood Plaza Partnership.”

The idea of the video series came after the organization noticed that although bigger plazas, such as the one in Times Square, receive a lot of attention, there were smaller plazas in neighborhoods in the outer boroughs that people need to know exist.

“These videos are about getting more people to know about the plazas and understand all the great social capital that exists in and around them,” said Laura Hansen, managing director of the Neighborhood Plaza Partnership. “There are a lot of people that know about these plazas, but we really want people beyond that to recognize the vibrancy and importance of the plazas.”


Diversity Plaza in Jackson Heights lights up for the holidays

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy Councilmember Daniel Dromm's Office

Councilmember Daniel Dromm gathered with State Senator Jose Peralta, the nonprofit SUKHI NY, Moin Choudhury of Association for Justice Inc., Friends of Diversity Plaza and local residents at Diversity Plaza, located at 37th Road between 73rd and 74th Streets in Jackson Heights on Sunday to light the plaza’s 16-foot holiday tree.

The Friends of Diversity Plaza includes members from the office of Councilmember Daniel Dromm, the Jackson Heights Beautification Group, the Jackson Heights Green Alliance, the Neighborhood Plaza Partnership and the Birchwood House.

“I want to thank everyone for pulling together to make this space better each year,” said Dromm. “The second annual tree lighting was a success.”



Op-ed: The spirit of giving

| oped@queenscourier.com


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.



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.