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CB2 member calls for permanent street closure to expand park space near Citigroup building

44th Drive between the Citigroup Building and Rafferty Triangle (Google Maps)

Aug. 17, 2017 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

Portion of 44th Drive to be closed, proposed by CB2 member Michael Son.

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.

Proposed New Park by Queens Post on Scribd

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36 Comments

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MRLIC

To The Real MRLIC: I don’t even live in Sunnyside and would never put up posters of Fascists like Hitler & Mussolini. I don’t intimidate people. You are not the Real MRLIC. Just another Fake one.

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Emi

Love idea!! It has to be the section of 44th drive because it already has green space on the both side of the street. It would not work if we chose other streets. Also it is meaningful because it is a relatively busy street. The area is becoming so busy with all the building and traffic. The whole idea is to slow things down. No one think Central Park is a bd idea because it is in the middle of the city. It works because it is in the middle of the city.

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MRLIC

If Anonymous is right and indeed Michael Son;s father owns a ton of LIC Real Estate, you can make sense of this INSANE Idea.Community Boards should not have special Interest people like Michael Son on any Board. Real Estate people either. They all should be shunned like the Plague. It is Real Estate people who have ruined LIC probably forever, along with the NYC Economic Development Corp. Real Estate agents tell prospective buyers that STORES are coming to the area and it is 5-7 minutes to Manhattan. We know the truth that the trains are dangerously overcrowded and as Dave pointed out on his post, Businesses open for 6 months and close because of absurdly HIGH RENTS. All current projects such as the overkill of 30 more HOTELS, should be stopped/delayed/or not done at all. We need to find space for a decent park. There is supposed to be a park in the 3 buildings if you count down from Queens Plaza down Jackson Avenue on the Starbucks,Chipolte side. It will almost be a gated community and the park will be for residents of those buildings only, not the general Public. Elitism at it’s best.

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Who is the real MRLIC?

Last time I checked, everyone on here is anonymous. Does that mean everyone lacks credibility?

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MRLIC

To Who is the real MRLIC. Sure everyone is anonymous. The problem is many different people use the Anonymous screen name. Myself I use MRLIC and Anon is Ano etc..Do you get the point? Most people who are on this site regularly you will recognize by heir screen names. Anonymous could be any individual who is not on here regularly.

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MRLIC doesn't exist

So because you use the same username (that is often copied so who knows who is making the comment) that gives you creditability? If you think that’s what gives you creditability over anyone else that posts on this site, than that’s sad and I pity you. Being a real person gives you creditability. You may as well live in Brooklyn for all anyone knows. Go ahead – tell us anything real about you. We all know you won’t.

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MRLIC

To MRLICdoesn’t exist: For all I know you may be the one who I am constantly debunking posting as me. Which would be a BIG no no on your part for posting as an existing scree name instead of your own. If you are not tat person you should know I have been posting on this site for a few years now. I do live in LIC my entire life. My screen name MRLIC signifies my Initials with LIC. I have seen this neighborhood change not for the better. It was a working class neighborhood and is now a Hipster/Yuppie/Gentrified enclave of people with no sense of community. There used to be block barbecues all around the neighborhood on Holidays and some weekends. Murray Park had pick up softball games just about every night. It was concrete then. There wasn’t such an influx of dogs and people who don’t pick up after them. You could breathe unlike now with Big Luxury Condos all around you. When you walked around LIC everyone seemed to know each other unlike now. Kids played football & stick ball in the street or Murray Pk also around other areas. Not 31 Hotels and 40+ story buildings being built all over. Rents out of control. Transit over taxed. etc… shall I go on. Is that enough for you to know I am from LIC????????

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Anonymous

Son owns property in that area thats why he wants it. His father owns a ton of LIC real estate.

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An Astoria mom

Wonder what the late urban activist Jane Jacobs would advise us today.She’s been described as “The Woman Who Saved NYC from Superhighway Hell”.Some of Dave’s comments seem heartbreakingly accurate. You look especially at the area by the bridge,lately,like “What happened here??!!” But is it really too late for ANYTHING to be done? Hoping not. Was it MRLIC , or maybe Mr Charlie,who once said”one day urban planners will study this area for how NOT to do things”..I appreciate this site ,which I discovered after my sister & fellow Astorian passed away. She would have liked Hunter’s Point waterfront,etc,& yes, would need car access for Access A Ride(wheelchair), but as people are posting, there must be some blocks for space,somewhere. Hope all this is kept in mind as “planners” eye Sunnyside. Can they/ we, as a city, get it right next time?Anyway, was glad to see the Stop sign as we walked w our child around Hunters Point recently. Keep on keeping on,all,day by day.

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brooklynmc

… as people start to flock back to urban life we need to make our streets friendlier, safer and cleaner for the people who actually live here.

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brooklynmc

In the 50’s when we were obsessed with cars and highways, the middle class fled to the suburbs. Cities were destroyed as they were basically transformed into large office parks with highways and parking garages. Cities were cut off from their waterways. As people start to flock back to urban friendly, safer and cleaner.

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brooklynmc

That area definitely needs more parks and I personally don’t care about the needs of cars or trucks. I say close off all of downtown to traffic. Have a few essential routes for deliveries and fire/police services. Cars killed cities years ago and it is time to take our cities back from the destructive car culture.

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Basta

More proof you aren’t a NY’er. NYC has always been “car city.” That’s just the way it is. Stop trying to turn it into whatever lame fantasy land you are hoping for.

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MRLIC

The FAKE MRLIC wrote the August 18, 1:39 pm post about Jimmy Van Lamer closing all the roads down. This person won’t give up as they think they are funny , when in fact they are anything BUT.

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Dave

First of all, for all the reasons that have been previously brought up, this plan is stupid as hell.
Second, whenever the whole parkland discussion comes up I find it laughable. How are you going to have a discussion about parkland AFTER building like 30 densely packed high rise dwellings in the area and with more breaking ground each year? The time to plan for this was years ago. Sorry it’s over, the neighborhood is screwed. If you want to visit a park walk to the waterfront. Other than that its just going to be a maze of crappy “Luxury” highrise buildings and stores that will perpetually open and go out of business within 6 months because of the absurd rents. This is what they defacto planned by LACK OF planning…a neighborhood of tightly packed buildings, minimal parkland, massively overstretched transit connections and no businesses that remain long term.

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HB

Ridiculous idea. If any streets in the area would be demapped or closed to normal traffic, it would be:
– 45th Ave next to Citibank, which is often used for street fairs
– One of the streets along the traffic island at the intersection of Crescent St, Hunter St, and 44th Rd.
And there will be a new park around 5pointz soon.

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MRLIC

Typical Jimmy Van LAMER lining his pockets with money from Big Parks. How will people drive when ALL THE ROADS ARE CLOSED?! We are one step away from all roads in LIC being permanently closed. Obviously creating parks for the enjoyment of the public is exactly the same as selling out the public.

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MRLIC

I agree with the person calling this a STUPID IDEA, which it is. The fire trucks, the buses and the school buses all do use that route. The fact that park space for the future “LOOKS BLEAK” Mr. Plaza is groups such as yours and others along with Jimmy Van Bramer have given into developers and basically sold us (the public) out. The lot near Hunter & Crescent by M. Wells I heard will be developed into Luxury Housing. Why not FIGHT to make that lot a PARK. That would be the best use of the LAND. Don’t let the developers win again on that lot near M. Wells.

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Anonymous

“The lot” has been owned by Rockrose for years and they have “as of right” to develop there. Instead of bashing Mr. Plaza, Van Bramer and this idea, perhaps you should consider working with them to help research where a viable place to establish a park would be and contribute to the creation of a constructive idea.

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MRLIC

The fact you remain Anonymous says much about your credibility, but that’s another matter. Rockrose should STOP BEING GREEDY ($$$$$$$) and know that LIC needs a Park, The company is part of Developing without Proper Planning. Mr. Plaza’s Group seems powerless to do anything. Sorry that’s just what I make of all this and others see it too. The space near M. Wells should be or donated to the Community Board for the Over Development Rockrose has helped cause.

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brooklynmc

besides being anonymous, he/she takes the thumbs up/thumbs down obsession to new level. Yay!

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Reason

I disagree here. If Rockrose wants to be truly invested in making LIC a great place to live, they should donate ‘the lot’ to the city and throw in some money to make it a proper park. Maybe in trade, JVB can do something for rockrose at one of their other sites. I’d be surprised if they don’t own more land around here.

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Amadeo Plaza

To the below commenter’s point, we encourage your voice in discussions like this. The article quoted me correctly. I support the thinking behind ideas like this, but I raised all the same transportation concerns to both Michael and LIC Post. Nevertheless, it’s this kind of radical solutions-driven thinking that we need to combat the radically disappearing room for open space opportunities.

Also to the below commenter’s point, The Lot was never public land. Rockrose bought it from the previous owners something like 10 years ago. And in terms of fighting to make that land a park, even with knowing it was private land, we did just that.

http://licpost.com/rockrose-files-plans-to-develop-the-lot-community-group-wants-it-stopped

Surprised you hadn’t seen anything about it here, or NY1, or NBC New York. All of whom covered it. We ARE trying to fight the battles for the betterment of the community. We’d love for you to join us in it.

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Basta

People are simply pointing out that the area is already overdeveloped, and it’s now getting worse. They need to stop building these ugly towers. This one block doesn’t really make a difference in the grand scheme of things if the building continues apace.

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Anonymous

In addition to the existing MTA bus routes there are at least 3 public school bus routes that utilize this as well. This is stupid.

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DO

Pearson Street is a right turn only, blocked by newer concrete barriers. There are left turns until 44th, after that, very unsafe and multiple avenues, until Queensboro bridge traffic mess. What is west-bound traffic to do, a sharp u turn?

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It's good you DO bother, all of you

You are bringing up good points that other well meaning people may not have realized. Between all these ideas and suggestions, something really useful can get done. Thanks to all of you creative and also practical thinkers out there. This is what we need..

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Not Sure Why I Bother

This is such a stupid idea on so many levels.

There are three bus routes on that street, not two. Rerouting them will affect commuters from sunnyside, astoria, maspeth, and ridgewood. How about asking them how they feel about this? Has the MTA even been told of this?

44 dr. is also the preferred route for the nearest fire house (258/115) responding to calls north of ct. sq. Traffic around here is already a mess, we have at least 20k more people coming to the area, and no additional first responders. This isn’t helping at all. This is literally throwing an obstacle into the path of our life line. Thanks.

Why don’t they de-map Crescent or Hunter streets? Both are light traffic, no bus routes. Or maybe the city should sell that lot next to M Wells for a park?

Something like this will just make Jackson ave even more of a parking lot, which really sucks for those of us who actually live on Jackson and have to deal with it every day.

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hunter street llc

We can definitely close off hunter street by the triangle. that is a better alternative

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Not Sure Why I Bother

I meant to say Rockrose can sell ‘the lot’ to the city.

Down in greenpoint/williamsburg, the city just spend an obscene amount of money for property to create a park (at least $100M if I recall right). I’m pretty sure JVB can rep us hard and get cash for that lot, or work out some deal with Rockrose to make it happen.

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