Oct. 5, 2018 By Nathaly Pesantez
Potential development of the Sunnyside Yard continues to inch closer to reality, as the first public meeting as part of the master planning process has been set for this month.
The meeting, scheduled for Oct. 24 at LaGuardia Community College, will go over the master planning process that kicked off over the summer and allow for attendees to voice their ideas about the neighborhood and the yard’s framework and vision.
About six stations will be set up at the meeting, all designed to gather input from the neighborhood on a variety of areas for analysis. One station, for example, will ask about existing area conditions, including things people value most about their neighborhood along with pressure points. Another station will focus on open space.
The input will be analyzed and incorporated into the master planning process, where it will help inform the master plan, a long-term document that lays out what can be built over the yard. It will touch on aspects like housing and affordability, transportation, community facilities, parks and schools, along with development phases and a potential timeline to carry the plan out.
The idea behind the meeting is to encourage a collaborative undertaking for the 18-acre yard, and to seek community input on their vision for the next generation.
“The Sunnyside Yard master planning process includes many opportunities for elected and community stakeholder agreement because it’s important to ensure that the many diverse communities surrounding the yard have a seat at the table,” said Shavone Williams, a spokesperson for the city’s Economic Development Corporation, one of the agencies managing the yard’s potential development.
The first public forum, organized in part by Amtrak, which owns the majority of the yard, comes as the Sunnyside Yard Steering Committee, held its first meetings beginning in the summer. The 35-member committee, made up of local leaders and stakeholders and selected by the EDC, will help outline priorities for the yard’s brainstorming and development as part of the master planning process, among other functions.
The EDC is also in the process of arranging interviews, workshops, round-tables, and thinking of other methods to engage the public in the process. A digital component will also be implemented as part of the engagement process for those unable to attend meetings but interested in joining the conversation.
The master planning process, to be developed by the Practice for Architecture and Urbanism, along with other engineering and planning experts, is expected to wrap up by the end of 2019, but could take up to two years to finish.
The city, along with Amtrak, first announced their intention to produce a master plan for the site in May, just over a year after the Sunnyside Yard Feasibility Study was released.
The study said over 80 percent of the yard could potentially be decked over and developed with up to 24,000 residential units, 19 schools and 52 acres of public parks.
The yard has long been eyed for development, with Amtrak approaching the city in 2014 to discuss the possibility of a large-scale development above the yards.
The first public meeting for the Sunnyside Yard Master Plan will take place on Oct. 24 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at LaGuardia Community College, located at 31-10 Thomson Ave. To register, visit, www.sunnysideyard.nyc.