August 17, by Nathaly Pesantez
A Community Board 2 member has put forward a proposal to close off a section of a road between the Citigroup building and a small park to traffic, which would allow for the plaza at the ground level of the building and the park across the street to connect.
Michael Son, who is a member of the Land Use committee for CB2, is calling for the portion of 44th drive running between Rafferty Square and the Citigroup building to be permanently closed off, which would allow for the 0.10 acre park to connect with the public plaza at the ground of the Citigroup building
The driving force behind this particular idea is the overall development occurring in the Court Square area of Long Island City, Son said.
“I think the idea of de-mapping a street is not really thought about for parks,” Son said.
While the rapid development of Long Island City has brought plans for new schools, affordable housing, and retail shops, Son believes the city has not done enough to protect and expand park spaces in the area.
“Everyone in LIC can universally agree that development is leading to the scarcity of necessary infrastructure,” Son said.
The need for parks and open public spaces has been a growing concern among Long Island City residents. Just two weeks ago, the LIC Coalition, a newly formed advocacy group, created a petition to oppose city-backed development which would add close to 1,000 apartments and one acre of park space near the LIC waterfront, and called for a park to be put in place instead.
Brent O’Leary, president and founder of the Hunters Point Civic Association, supports Son’s proposal, citing a lack of green space in a LIC that is increasingly turning into a “concrete jungle”.
“The city should be trying to preserve any amount of green space it can,” O’Leary said. “Especially considering the rapid over-development of LIC.”
Amadeo Plaza, the president and founder of the Court Square Civic Association, said the future of parks and open spaces in LIC looks bleak, and also supports the thinking behind the proposal to connect Rafferty Square to the public plaza at One Court Square.
“This is the thinking we need to have if we want to find new and interesting ways to find green space,” Plaza said.
The proposed section to be closed off, a little over 300 feet, is a two-way thoroughfare that connects to Jackson Avenue. Two bus routes, the Q39 and the Q67, also go through the proposed site to be closed off, and have bus stops there, too.
Son said he is aware of the busy thoroughfare and the two bus routes that run through it, but feels there can be workarounds to his proposal if the Department of Transportation examined the proposed section and its surrounding areas.
If CB2 accepts the proposal, it will be sent to the Department of Transportation, the Parks Department, and the Department of Design and Construction.