It started out as a beautification and community development project, but a pedestrian plaza on the Brooklyn-Queens border is an eyesore that is detrimental to business, locals say.
Five parking spots were permanently removed last November when the Department of Transportation (DOT) built the plaza at Drew Street and 101st at City Line.
“This plaza has totally crippled my business,” said Ahmad Ubayda, owner of the 99 Cent Ozone Park Discount Hardware store on the corner of the block. “This has been my worst year of business because they took away parking spaces for my customers but aren’t even using them.”
The site has deteriorated since its opening, locals charged.
Four tables and 12 chairs set up in a small section of the plaza while most of the space isn’t used.
Initial plans called for ample seating space, permanent bench seating and bike parking. When the plaza was first built there were plenty of chairs and tables, some even with umbrellas.
But a few weeks after its grand opening much of the furniture, which was chained up to a nearby light pole, was stolen and it hasn’t been fully replaced since, according to residents.
Now the plaza has just four tables, 12 chairs, two permanent benches and no bike parking space.
Moreover, the Bangladesh American Community Development and Youth Services Corporation (BACDYS), a local nonprofit organization, is responsible for the plaza’s upkeep, according to the DOT. Yet garbage overflowed from several cans and littered the floors on Monday.
BACDYS, which teamed up with the DOT to create the plaza, got support from local businesses and from Community Board 9 of Queens and Community Board 5 of Brooklyn before they went through with the project.
Many of the businesses on the strip did agree to the proposed idea under the impression that it would be good for the growth of their stores.
Photo courtesy of DOT
But Ubayda said it has done the exact opposite for his, which has put his store and livelihood in limbo.
Steve Melnick, a former resident of the area, shared his concern at the meetings that were held for the plaza before it was built. He said this plaza is nothing like it was planned.
“This [plaza] is something that this nonprofit group wanted but they are not following through,” Melnick said. “As tax payers, we have the right to know what’s going on with the property.”
Mary Ann Carey, District Manager of Community Board 9, has reached out to the DOT about the plaza, according to a spokeswoman from the board, but it is not yet known if they have responded.
A phone number for BACDYS was not accepting calls; there was no answer at another number for the group.
The DOT also did not immediately respond for comment.