Panel Likes Plaza Plan

Add Ideas For Glendale Triangle Makeover

With a number of conditions, Community Board 5′s Transportation and Public Transportation Committees recommended last Thursday, June 28, approval of the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) plans for the creation of a public plaza at the Glendale Memorial Triangle.

During their session at Redeemer Lutheran School, the panels received an overview regarding the proposed design for the new plaza along a short section of 70th Street between Myrtle and Cooper avenues, which will be closed to traffic and beautified through a joint effort between the DOT and the Ridgewood Local Development

Corporation (RLDC).

Emily Weidenhof of the DOT stated that the project would transform an “underutilized space” into a venue to better accommodate public events such as the annual Memorial Day parade and Christmas tree lighting. The plaza will also include room for the adjacent Zum Stammtisch restaurant to open a sidewalk café.

The project also includes creating a traffic island on the abbreviated section of 71st Street between Myrtle and Cooper avenues adjacent to a gas station. Weidenhof indicated that this measure would help improve pedestrian safety through the area, which is currently an asphalt triangle with painted stripes.

Regarding the plans for the Glendale Memorial Triangle plaza, Weidenhof stated that the plaza would be lined with trees and planters and covered in decorative brick. Benches and movable seats and chairs will also be provided to give visitors a place to sit and rest; the benches are designed with dividers to discourage both vagrants and skateboarders.

The monument and flagpole would be contained within an elliptical stone wall that will double as a seating area, she noted. Flowers will be planted within the monument space; it has been suggested that red poppies, a symbol of those who died during World War I, would be among the plants brought to the location.

Additionally, a compass will be scored into the decorative brick on the easternmost tip of the triangle, Weidenhof added.

While the DOT and the Department of Design and Construction (DDC) will handle the actual creation of the public plaza, she stated, the RLDC will be responsible for maintaining the new public space, including sanitation, plantings and tree pruning.

Closing off the short section of 70th Street, which leads to a deadend block south of Cooper Avenue, should have little impact on traffic flow through the area, Weidenhof stated. In a traffic study conducted through the area, the DOT reportedly concluded that surrounding streets have the capacity to accommodate cars traveling to and from the dead end block.

“We feel that there’s not a huge load to kind of put on the other streets in the network,” she said.

Weidenhof indicated that the DOT believes there will be little negative impact with the closure of 71st Street between Myrtle and Cooper avenues.

The plaza’s construction will also lead to the creation of “neckdowns,” the widening of curbs at the corner of Myrtle and Cooper avenues. As a result, the DOT representative stated that the agency would implement turning restrictions for trucks between Myrtle and Cooper avenues.

Though the DOT’s plans were met with favor from the committees, Board 5 Chairperson Vincent Arcuri noted that the panels had a number of suggestions for both increasing safety and improving traffic flow through the area once the blocks of 70th and 71st streets are closed.

First, Arcuri suggested that the DOT install a traffic signal at the corner of 68th Street and Cooper Avenues. The board has sought the traffic light at the location for years due to speeding traffic near a bend in the Cooper Avenue roadway, but the requests were denied by the DOT.

Since closing off the block of 70th Street would bring more cars to 68th Street Arcuri explained, the new traffic light at the corner of 68th Street and Cooper Avenue would allow pedestrians and motorists travel through the area more safely.

The chairperson also advised the DOT to change the direction of 71st Place between Myrtle and Cooper avenues from a one-way southbound to a one-way northbound to accommo- date vehicles leaving the drivethrough lane of the McDonald’s restaurant at the corner of Myrtle and Cooper avenues.

“When we approved the development of the McDonald’s drive through, we restricted the left turn out of the driveway because it’s a very short street,” he said, noting that vehicles would be required to turn right onto Myrtle Avenue. “That creates a difficulty. They have to go to 72nd street. … We need to give them a way of staying legal. We may have to look at making 71st Place” a one-way northbound between Myrtle and Cooper avenues; it currently is a oneway for southbound traffic.

“That also solves a problem that we’ve been addressing at this intersection, because coming southbound, it’s a very difficult, dangerous entry into Myrtle Avenue,” Arcuri added.

Werner Lehner, owner of Zum Stammtisch restaurant, also asked the DOT to consider raising the height of planter boxes or installing bollards along the curbs of Myrtle and Cooper avenues to act as buffers between pedestrians and vehicular traffic. The devices would also act as a defensive measure to prevent vehicles from mounting the curb, he added.

This concern was also raised by a resident of 70th Street, who noted that vehicles frequently speed while heading toward the location of the plaza.

The raised curb and the presence of trees, Weidenhof added, would also help protect the seating area. Nonetheless, the panels advised the DOT in their official recommendation to install a “physical barrier” along the Myrtle Avenue side of the triangle.

Other suggestions made by Board 5 in their recommendation of the Glendale Plaza project include:

– installing an anchoring system to support the Glendale Christmas tree similar to the one used for the Rockefeller Center tree in Manhattan;

– removing the easternmost of four trees to be planted along Cooper Avenue in order to prevent overgrowth that could block the view of the Glendale Memorial Triangle monument;

– permitting passenger vehicles to turn from eastbound Myrtle Avenue onto westbound Cooper Avenue to allow cars to enter the McDonald’s parking lot;

– retiming traffic signals at 69th Place and Myrtle Avenue and resynchronizing traffic signals in the area to accommodate changes in traffic movement;

– installing a drinking fountain provided that the DOT installs equipment to water plants in the plaza; and

– installing electrical outlets at the plaza for sound and lighting equipment for the parade and tree lighting.

Board 5 is scheduled to vote on the Glendale Plaza project at their July 11 meeting at Christ the King Regional High School in Middle Village. For more information, see the story on Page 4.

Should the plans be approved, the proposal will then be reviewed by the city’s Public Design Commission. Weidenhof indicated that the project is currently on track to begin in the spring of 2014.

New plaza for Ridgewood?

With the Glendale project in the pipeline, the DOT and the Myrtle Avenue Business Improvement District (MABID) have begun developing a plan to create a new public plaza along a short section of 71st Avenue between Myrtle Avenue and Stephen Street.

“If ever there was a street that’s underutilized, it’s 71st Avenue,” Weidenhof said, noting that the DOT and MABID were working to create a temporary plaza at the location in time for the Christmas holiday shopping season before embarking on forming a more permanent plan.

The temporary plaza, if constructed, would feature textured painting on the asphalt, planters and movable seating.

Ted Renz, executive director of the RLDC who also serves in the same position with the MABID, noted that the plaza’s creation is several decades in the making, noting that previous plans had been scrapped over the years due to city budget constraints.

“After 25 years … we’re finally getting that plaza in the eastern end of our district,” Renz added.

A public hearing on the plaza’s creation is scheduled to take place on Tuesday night, Sept. 4, at a Ridgewood location to be announced. The board will review and vote on the plans at their meeting scheduled to take place later in the month.

The committees recommended approval of the creation of the temporary plaza pending the results of the September public workshop. Board 5 will vote on their recommendation on July 11.

Other news

Now a “design-build project” as reclassified by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Arcuri noted that the Kosciuszko Bridge reconstruction is “going out for bid very shortly.” The creation of two new spans to replace the existing bridge is on track to begin in the spring of 2013 and would likely take five years to complete.

Fern Weinreich of the DDC stated that crews have completed the reconstruction of the southern retaining wall of the Cooper Avenue underpass on the Glendale/Middle Village border. Work will begin in the coming weeks on the northern retaining wall.

Arcuri added that the Landmarks Preservation Commission has approved an application to install historic “terracotta”-colored street signs at intersections within the Ridgewood North and Ridgewood South historic districts.

Community Board 5’s Transportation and Public Transit Committees will not meet in July and August. For information on their next session, call 1-718-366-1834.

More from Around New York