The proposed plan for Ridgewood’s 71st Avenue Triangle will become a reality when a temporary pedestrian plaza is installed where the road meets Myrtle Avenue and Stephen Street.
This project furthers Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s plan to create public, open plazas throughout the city.
Ridgewood residents and area business owners met Tuesday night, September 4, with the city Department of Transportation (DOT) and officials from the Local Development Corp., Business Improvement District (BID) and Community Board 5 to brainstorm designs for the temporary plaza.
“We need to improve Myrtle Avenue,” said John Mistretta, the original owner of Joe and John’s Pizzeria, which has been open on Myrtle Avenue for nearly five decades.
Mistretta believes that with this new pedestrian plaza, people will be encouraged to come and walk around more frequently, hopefully restoring the success of the area’s retail businesses.
“We need to make it more like it was 40 years ago. There was a big, main shopping area, now it’s slowed down,” he said.
Along with promoting local businesses, the 71st Avenue Triangle was chosen as the plaza site because of its proximity to bus transit. The change will also widen crosswalks, hopefully eliminating any pedestrian-vehicle conflict.
Emily Weidenhof, project manager for the DOT, said that the installation will not affect any emergency response time, traffic will be minimally impacted, and any parking spots lost will be reclaimed on the opposite side of Myrtle Avenue.
Weidenhof encouraged those at Tuesday’s meeting to discuss among themselves just what was needed for the temporary plaza. She noted a need for pedestrian crossings, convenient seating, good lighting and continued maintenance.
“Your input is extremely important. That’s what helps these things meet your needs,” Weidenhof told the crowd. “If we get to the community, we can come back to enhance it in a more permanent condition later on.” In order to promote and enhance the temporary site, plans of public art forums and street fairs were discussed. The Ridgewood BID will be responsible for maintenance of the area, and business owners expressed a need for public trash and recycle bins.
The DOT, Ridgewood LDC and BID are continuing to work with local business owners and residents to accommodate all of their needs. If the temporary plaza proves successful in the community, a permanent site will be established by early next year.
“Build something, more people will come down,” said Mistretta. “We gotta give it to the people, to get it back.”