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Posts from the "Parks" Category

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Bronx Advocates Push for New Pedestrian Plaza in Soundview

Today, Harrod Place separates a green triangle from a busy park. A local group hopes to convert it to a plaza. Photo: Google Maps

Harrod Place separates an underutilized green triangle (left) from a park. A local group hopes to convert it to a plaza. Photo: Google Maps

Near the intersection of Morrison and Westchester Avenues in Soundview, just a block from the Bronx River Parkway, one block separates a forlorn green triangle from Parque de Los Niños and its well-used benches and baseball diamonds. Now, a local group is hoping to phase in public space upgrades to the area through DOT’s plaza program. The first step received support from Community Board 9 last month.

Last fall, Youth Ministries for Peace and Justice applied to the plaza program, hoping to eventually convert a section of Harrod Place into a plaza linking the commercial area along Westchester Avenue with the park. In May, DOT hosted a workshop at the public library on Morrison Avenue to present concepts and gather feedback.

The plan would start with curb extensions and plaza upgrades. The local group behind the plan hopes for a full plaza eventually. Image: DOT

Improvements would start with curb extensions and public space upgrades. The local group behind the plan hopes to eventually pedestrianize one block of Harrod Place  – the side street in this plan. Image: DOT

DOT came back with a plan to add painted curb extensions, planters, benches, tables and chairs [PDF]. It would remove three parking spaces while DOT says four spaces could be added elsewhere on Harrod by adjusting regulations. YMPJ, advised by the Neighborhood Plaza Partnership, has promised to maintain the space and aims to program it with public art, a farmers market, and exercise groups. The plan gained the support of CB 9 on June 19.

“It’s a pretty underutilized street in many ways,” YMPJ executive director David Shuffler said. His group has spoken with many of the adjacent businesses, which he said do most of their loading through front doors on Westchester Avenue.

While DOT’s proposal doesn’t make Harrod car-free, Shuffler hopes the project can evolve into a fully pedestrianized plaza. “My understanding is that this would be the first phase, and they would be looking for funds for the second phase, which is the complete plaza,” he said. ““We talked to the local businesses, and they said it was okay.”

DOT says its crews have patched potholes and addressed other road conditions in preparation for the first round of changes, which Shuffler hopes to see implemented within a month.

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Eyes on the Street: New Bike Channel on Inwood Hill Park Rail Bridge

Reader Kimberly Kinchen tweeted this photo of a new bike channel on the stairs of the bridge over train tracks that separate Dyckman Fields, on the Hudson River, from the rest of Inwood Hill Park, to the east.

“It’s only on the second flight so far,” wrote Kinchen. “I assume they’ll install them on the first flight, too — still an improvement for sure.”

We’ve asked the Parks Department if this retrofit will be applied to other stairways, or if there was a request for bike channels on this particular bridge. We’ll update here if we hear back. In the meantime, let us know in the comments if you’ve seen other stairways with newly-installed ramps.

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Parks Department Repairs Hudson River Greenway Sinkhole

Happy Bike to Work Day: The Parks Department has repaired the Hudson River Greenway sinkhole.

Streetsblog first reported on the sinkhole, located just north of 181st Street in Washington Heights, almost a year ago. Temporary fixes didn’t keep it from widening. As the problem got worse, the Parks Department said the agency was trying to ascertain what caused the sinkhole, and who was responsible for repairing it. By early May it had swallowed most of the path.

Sometime between Wednesday evening and early Thursday morning, workers filled the hole with what looked like a mixture of sand, dirt, and asphalt, and placed a metal plate over part of it. This opened up more room for users to pass, but the rain made the plate slippery, and the area was in general a muddy mess. More important, as it turned out: Construction barrels were placed around the hole and lined the greenway for 20 to 30 yards in both directions.

Parks told us last week that the agency had hired a contractor, who was obtaining permits to close lanes on the Henry Hudson Parkway. We asked Parks spokesperson Phil Abramson by email yesterday if repair work was imminent. ”Yes,” Abramson replied, “work is getting underway to make the repairs.”

@AndrewOnBike posted the above pic on his Twitter feed today.

The Hudson River Greenway is the trunk line for bike commuters who travel between Manhattan’s Central Business District, Upper Manhattan, and points beyond. The Parks Department often closes segments of the greenway, without notice and for extended periods of time, which interrupts commutes and can force cyclists and other users onto hazardous streets.

“This isn’t the only problematic section of the greenway, but it is the worst,” Kimberly Kinchen, Inwood resident and member of Bike Upper Manhattan, told Streetsblog. “I’m glad to see that Parks finally took action.”

Read more…

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Parks Dept. Promises Fix After Year-Old Sinkhole Finally Swallows Greenway

Hudson River Greenway users north of 181st Street can get by on the grass shoulder, but the sinkhole is expanding.

Hudson River Greenway users north of 181st Street can get by on the grass shoulder, but the sinkhole is expanding.

It’s been almost a year since we first reported on a sinkhole eating away at the Hudson River Greenway just north of 181st Street. The Parks Department added barricades, an old board, and finally filled it with gravel last month while it figured out “a long-term solution.”

The clock is ticking: In the past couple weeks, the hole has grown and now swallows the entire paved path, forcing greenway users onto a narrow grass shoulder.

Parks Department spokesperson Phil Abramson said that the hole is the result to a broken water line and will require lane closures on the Henry Hudson Parkway to fix:

Parks has secured a contractor to execute repairs to the broken water line and the section of greenway path that is being compromised as a result of it. The contractor is in the process of securing roadway construction/lane closure permits [so] that the section of highway barrier can be removed and heavy machinery mobilized to make the needed repairs.

Streetsblog asked if there’s a timeline for the repairs, but didn’t receive a reply. We’ll let you know if we hear anything back.

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Feds Reject All Three NYC Applications for Latest Round of TIGER Grants

Without a TIGER grant, New Yorkers will have to wait a little longer for the next phase of the Bronx River Greenway (in red). Map: Bronx River Alliance

This morning, U.S. DOT announced the winners in the latest round of its highly-competitive TIGER grant program. While upstate New York won grants for two projects — a highway teardown in Rochester and a complete streets project in Olean — New York City missed out, with applications for ferry improvements, a greenway connection in the Bronx, and the redesign of a busy intersection in Downtown Brooklyn failing to make the cut.

DOT had applied for funding to implement the Brooklyn Bridge Gateway project, a long-anticipated reconstruction of the intersection of Tillary Street and Adams Street that would dramatically improve cyclist and pedestrian access to the Brooklyn Bridge. DOT, which had unsuccessfully submitted the partially-funded project for earlier rounds of TIGER funding before trying again this year, told Streetsblog it was looking at other federal funding sources to fill the gap.

The Parks Department applied for $27.5 million from TIGER to match $10 million in city funds for the completion a section of the Bronx River Greenway between Starlight Park and Concrete Plant Park. The Bronx project includes three bridges — two over the Bronx River and one over the adjacent Amtrak corridor. The project, delayed by negotiations over the Amtrak bridge, saw state funds dedicated to its construction expire in 2009.

A third application, from EDC, would have been dedicated to ferry infrastructure. Streetsblog has inquired with Parks and EDC to see how they plan to fund their projects without TIGER; we’ll let you know if we hear anything back.

New York City has previously won TIGER grants for Hunts Point freight rail infrastructure, Moynihan Station, the city’s Sheridan Expressway study, and the redesign of Fordham Plaza.

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Eyes on the Street: Traffic Calming, 20 MPH Zone at Williamsbridge Oval

Illegal idling by ambulance drivers is still a problem, but recently-installed improvements around Williamsbridge Oval have calmed traffic for Norwood residents accessing the park. Photo: Elisabeth von Uhl

Marcus Garvey Park in Harlem isn’t the only green space receiving traffic calming improvements this summer. In the Bronx, Friends of the Williamsbridge Oval waged a fight with DOT to get crosswalks and pedestrian space near their park in the Norwood neighborhood. Now, a plan [PDFpresented to Community Board 7 this spring has been implemented.

The improvements include a 20 mph speed limit, expanded pedestrian space at intersections, crosswalks connecting to park entrances, additional on-street parking, and new signage. The 20 mph speed limit could be extended to the rest of the neighborhood if local leaders persevere in their effort to receive a Slow Zone from DOT.

Although there is still illegal idling in the area by ambulance drivers, Friends of the Williamsbridge Oval member and Norwood resident Elisabeth von Uhl is thrilled with the changes. ”Finally, our streets are safer and our park is safer,” she told Streetsblog in an e-mail.

New pedestrian space and crosswalks make park access easier for Norwood residents. Photo: Elisabeth von Uhl

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After Long Wait, Bronx Park Slated for DOT Ped Fixes, 20 MPH Speed Limit

Since 2009, Friends of the Williamsbridge Oval and Bronx Community Board 7 have been asking DOT to improve pedestrian safety and access to the Norwood neighborhood’s central public space. Most intersections surrounding the park don’t have crosswalks, and sections of the road surrounding the park are also missing sidewalks. Now, after years of requests from neighbors, DOT has proposed changes that would make it safer to get to the park.

Trying to get to the park? There are no sidewalks or crosswalks now, but that's slated to change. Image: DOT

Williamsbridge Oval, also known as Reservoir Oval, had 15 pedestrian injuries and 22 motor vehicle occupant injuries from 2006 to 2012, according to DOT. Over the same period, there were no bicyclist injuries, while four of the motor vehicle occupant injuries were serious.

DOT’s proposal [PDF], presented at a meeting co-hosted by CB 7 last Wednesday, would reduce the speed limit on the oval from 30 mph to 20 mph and add signage alerting drivers to speed humps and curves in the road. It would also add painted curb extensions and crosswalks at the intersections of Holt Place, Reservoir Place, and at a park entrance near the tennis courts between Wayne Avenue and Bainbridge Avenue.

While painted curb extensions are now a common tool DOT uses across New York,  unlike its counterparts in other cities, the agency doesn’t normally suggest striping crosswalks where there are no traffic signals or stop signs.

“It’s a big step in the right direction,” said Jay Shuffield, a member of both CB 7 and Friends of the Williamsbridge Oval. Shuffield thanked DOT’s pedestrian projects group for the change in tone, since advocates felt they were stonewalled by the agency’s Bronx borough office. ”They suddenly dropped their resistance to common-sense solutions here,” he said.

The proposal also adjusts the oval’s two high-traffic intersections with Bainbridge Avenue. At the avenue’s intersection with West 208th Street, the proposal adds a painted pedestrian island, and at Van Cortlandt Avenue East, it shifts parking to create a painted sidewalk that connects to a park entrance.

Nine additional parking spaces would be added on Reservoir Place as it approaches the oval to calm traffic coming from East Gun Hill Road, and parking spaces are being shifted to accommodate the painted curb extension on the oval at Holt Place.

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Enthusiasm Builds for Slow Zone as DOT Stonewalls on Bronx Park Safety Fix

Residents of the Bronx’s Norwood section have long dealt with missing sidewalks and crosswalks on the street encircling Williamsbridge Oval Park, the neighborhood’s central green space. After getting stonewalled by DOT’s Bronx Borough Office, neighborhood leaders are now hoping a Slow Zone application will get DOT to take action.

DOT's Bronx Borough Office has not been receptive to calls for crosswalks and sidewalks around Williamsbridge Oval Park. Photo: Google Maps

Since 2009, advocates have been asking for basic improvements that would slow speeding traffic and make it safer for people crossing to the park. ”They’re narrow streets and yet, it’s amazing how fast people will go around it,” said Assembly Member Jeffrey Dinowitz, who recently helped secure a Slow Zone for nearby Riverdale.

Instead of a long-term solution, the neighborhood has received piecemeal fixes: a striped buffer at the intersection with Bainbridge Avenue, which drivers have learned to ignore, followed by a fresh coat for existing road markings that had faded away. A speed hump was installed at the request of Council Member G. Oliver Koppell in July 2012, while crosswalks and a sidewalk remain elusive.

In August 2012, fed up after the borough office had failed to make progress, Friends of the Williamsbridge Oval sent a letter to Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan asking her to intervene and deliver the requested safety improvements.

On January 23, DOT and Community Board 7 hosted a forum to discuss potential fixes for intersections next to the park. DOT staff spoke about temporary solutions, such as painted curb extensions and chicanes, but not crosswalks or sidewalks. The agency says it is processing feedback from the workshop and will have a proposal for the community board in the future. DOT did not provide a timeline for the proposal.

Meanwhile, enthusiasm is building for an application to DOT’s Slow Zone program, which would lower the speed limit to 20 mph and introduce traffic calming measures to the neighborhood.

Read more…

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Proposal for New Park Near Lincoln Tunnel Endorsed by CB 4

Image: CHEKPEDS

A community-driven proposal to create a new public space on a street near the Lincoln Tunnel was endorsed by Manhattan Community Board 4 Wednesday.

The plan, as reported by DNAinfo in December, is to convert three lane-widths of leftover asphalt on Dyer Avenue between 34th and 35th Streets into a park. That stretch of Dyer currently has three lanes for vehicle traffic exiting the tunnel and one lane for inbound vehicles. The Port Authority, which owns the street, plans to eliminate one of the outbound lanes. A coalition of neighborhood groups, including the Hell’s Kitchen Neighborhood Association and CHEKPEDS, envisions a park on the east side of Dyer, encompassing about 7,200 square feet.

DNAinfo reports that last night CB 4 voted unanimously to recommend the plan to the Port Authority.

There is still money to be raised, and the board wants “at least two” public feedback sessions. But organizers are upbeat — and with good reason, especially considering that the idea for the park came about only a few months ago.

“We’ve made a tremendous amount of progress so far,” said Jeffrey Peyser, who’s part of the effort to create the park.

“We’ve done outreach for corporate sponsorship to fund the initial aspects of the park and are working on getting matching grant programs.”

Meta Brunzema, an architect who helped create the initial design for the park, said that despite its tiny size, the green space would include new trees, seating areas and other amenities.

“Our group’s intent was really to make this a park for everybody — for seniors, for people with disabilities, for young people, for old people,” she said.

“The goal here is to make a real park.”

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How Will Soccer Fans Get to Proposed MLS Stadium in Queens?

A proposed Major League Soccer stadium in the middle of Queens’ largest park might have some cheerleaders in Albany, but lots of questions must be answered before the first game can be played. Perhaps the biggest issue is the stadium’s transportation plan, the details of which — those that have been made public, at least — differ from what neighborhood advocates say MLS is telling them.

Parked cars sit in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park during the recent U.S. Open. Photo: Clarence Eckerson Jr.

On Monday, a coalition of groups known as the Queens Coalition for Fairness, including Make the Road New York and Queens Community House, hosted a meeting in Corona. Donovan Finn, an urban planning professor at Stony Brook University, explained to the crowd of hundreds why the current MLS proposal is a bad proposition.

“I’m not necessarily against the idea of a soccer stadium in this part of Queens,” Finn told Streetsblog. “But I do not think that the specific site MLS has chosen is the best choice.”

“I don’t think MLS has really thought the transportation issues through very much,” said Finn.

MLS is proposing a new, 25,000-seat stadium at the current site of the Fountain of Industry, more than a half-mile from the Mets-Willets Point subway station. That’s twice as far from the subway as the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center and eight times farther than Citi Field.

The league says it will build an undisclosed number of parking spaces beneath the adjacent Van Wyck Expressway, but that none of the currently-estimated 13 acres of park land taken for the stadium would be used for parking.

Instead, MLS says that most attendees arriving by car are expected to use existing parking at Citi Field, an arrangement that’s likely subject to negotiation with Mets ownership. One potential problem Finn identified with this plan is double-booking Citi Field parking lots and overloading the 7 train, since soccer and baseball seasons occur at the same time of year.

Citi Field parking is up to three-quarters of a mile away from the proposed MLS site. The league says shuttle service to the subway or Citi Field parking lots is not currently part of its transportation plan, though community activists including Finn say MLS has told them otherwise.