Thursday, March 8, 2012

NOTES FROM THE MEETING ABOUT KENSINGTON PLAZA FROM COUNCILMEMBER LANDER


The idea for creating a small plaza on the recently-extended sidewalk (in front of Walgreens and adjacent businesses) came from Kensington community residents who want to address the community’s lack of open space and provide a place for people to gather, sit, or enjoy a coffee or ice cream. In response, my office worked with a number of City agencies on a plan to add a few trees, benches, stones, and other street furniture.

Placement of trees, benches, granite blocks, and bike racks
benches































The meeting began with a few presentations:
  • NYC Department of Transportation (DOT) made a presentation that included a proposed design with three new trees, two new benches, three new granite blocks, and two bike racks.
  • Coordinators of a new volunteer “stewardship group” talked about their plans to help keep the plaza clean. In addition to regularly picking up garbage, sweeping the space, and helping care for the trees, the group is interested in promoting small community activities at the plaza to encourage community use of the space.
  • I talked about the commitments of the NYPD 66th Precinct to focus on the plaza with attention from the neighborhood beat cop and other officers, and of the Department of Sanitation to work fairly with the property owners so that they do not get fined.
Many of those gathered then shared their thoughts on the plans:
  • A number of neighbors expressed an interest in a more social seating arrangement, which DOT committed to revisit. Other ideas included an art installation, which could be possible through DOT’s Urban Art Program, and the use of movable tables and chairs, which could be possible but are not a part of the proposed design because they would require extra maintenance.
  • Neighbors raised concern about graffiti in the area, which my office, the NYPD 66th Precinct, and the NYC Department of Sanitation are working together to remove.
  • Neighbors also expressed concern about unsafe traffic – in response, DOT proposed a high visibility crosswalk over Beverley Road, and will investigate placing a stop sign at East 2nd Street and Beverley Road.
  • Others pointed out concerns about public safety – in response, DOT will look into additional lighting over the sidewalk and the 66th Precinct has pledged increased police attention to this area.
Working together, I am hopeful that we can address the real issues that community members have raised, and continue to make progress toward building public space in Kensington. My office has continued to hear from community residents over the last week and I invite everyone to bring any ideas, comments, or concerns they may have to the attention of my District Director, Catherine Zinnel, at 718-499-1090 or czinnel @ council.nyc.gov.

I would like to thank Community Board 12 Parks Committee, the West Kensington Action Group, and the Albemarle Neighborhood Association, for co-hosting the meeting and the representatives of NYC Department of Transportation, NYC Department of Sanitation, and NYPD 66th Precinct for joining us. I look forward to hearing from everyone.

Brad