Dec. 9, 2020 By Michael Dorgan
The Dept. of Transportation is holding two virtual workshops next week to discuss ways in which street safety can be improved in the Court Square section of Long Island City and how public spaces can be expanded.
The workshops will take place via Zoom with the first workshop scheduled for Dec. 15 at 6:30 p.m. and the second event planned for Dec. 17 at noon.
The DOT is looking for Court Square residents to weigh in on ways to make streets safer and how to create more public space.
The agency is also gathering information on how streets could be redesigned and where additional street furniture could go down.
The DOT said it is soliciting feedback from the public as part of a community outreach process since the area is in need of upgrades.
“Long Island City is one of the fastest-growing neighborhoods in the country with high density and significant community interest for more public spaces,” DOT spokesperson Brian Zumhagen said in a statement.
Some pedestrian safety improvements would involve enlarging sidewalk space and creating shorter crosswalks.
The DOT said it is looking to expand public spaces by encouraging proposals for “Street Seats” and “Shared Streets.”
Street Seats involves local businesses or developers partnering with the DOT to put down seating areas in front of their premises either on the roadway, along the curb line or on sidewalks.
Shared Streets make certain streets more pedestrian-friendly by adding bollards, planters or street furniture. The concept involves pedestrians and vehicles sharing the street and often includes the implementation of traffic calming measures like reducing the speed limit.
The DOT said it is also seeking suggestions for more public space street activations whereby non-profit organizations host outdoor events such as performances, pedestrian plazas as well as fitness and educations classes.
The agency said it will use the feedback from the workshops to create a detailed design proposal which it will present to Community Board 2 in coming months.
“We are in the early stages of project development, but we are generally aiming to make the first set of improvements in 2021,” Zumhagen said.
Frank Wu, president of the Court Square Civic Association, welcomed the workshops and said that residents have been complaining about pedestrian safety and the lack of public spaces for some time.
“Court Square doesn’t have one large anchor park compared to the Hunters Point waterfront and instead only has small pockets of green space like Rafferty Triangle, Court Square Park and outside One Court Square,” Wu said.
“I would like to see better pedestrian connectivity between those spaces.”
Wu said that that the roll-out of street seats was successful in the past and more street furniture would be welcomed in Court Square.