Sponsored by the Department of Transportation (DOT), Department of Design & Construction (DDC) and the Myrtle Avenue Business Improvement District (BID), the 71st Avenue Public Design Workshop began at 6:30 p.m.
The 71st Avenue Triangle currently has a temporary plaza and its transformation into a permanent plaza is a project that falls under the NYC Plaza Program. The plaza, once fully constructed, will be maintained by the BID, and any group can program and hold events there after obtaining a permit through the Street Activity Permit Office.
After opening remarks from Theodore Renz, executive director of the BID, Emily Weidenholf of the Public Spaces Group of DOT and Kim Mathews from Mathews Nielsen Landscape Architects each gave presentations.
Mathews presented photos of other plazas that her firm has designed and then welcomed residents to offer their ideas, while considering that a portion of the plaza must have a moveable area to allow for emergency access of firetrucks and ambulances.
Each group at the workshop had a map of the project site and surrounding establishments drawn to scale, as well as markers, rulers, a paper for notes and two facilitators either from the DOT, DDC or Mathews Nielson.
After 30 minutes of brainstorming, each table nominated a representative to present the group's ideas.
"We thought it was really important to have a more protected, quiet oasis from all the traffic on Myrtle," said Brandon Zwagerman, offering landscaping ideas as well as suggestions for a community bulletin board, kiosks and Wi-Fi to allow residents to work from laptops.
"We focused essentially on what we're getting for what we're giving," said Walter Maffe, suggesting that the side of 71st Avenue be converted into muni-meter parking. "That would increase the number of available spaces for cars during the course of the day."
Other ideas included rotating public art exhibits, live music, focal points, green areas and gardens, maintaining historic signs and lamp posts, an area for trucks delivering to stores and much more.
After the event, community leaders expressed their thoughts on the plaza to come.
"It's an unusable street pattern that just creates traffic problems and with the plaza, it just brings the community out into the streets, the merchants and residents come together and the whole community will be able to use this place," said Vincent Arcuri, chair of Community Board 5. "It's well worth it."
Construction of the plaza begins the week of September 24 and, until then, residents can get updates and give their feedback via facebook.com/71stAve.