As construction on Station Square in Forest Hills nears completion, neighborhood corporation tests a new plan restricting traffic

Photo via Shutterstock

Though the majority of the construction fences went down last week, Station Square remains closed to traffic as the Forest Hills Gardens Corporation (FHGC) tests a new plan that would cut off cars through the intersection.

The FHGC began a renovation project a year ago that replaced infrastructure underneath the square, laid a new foundation and replaced all the bricks in the street. Though the construction was slated to end at the end of 2018, over five months later it’s still nearing completion in one area.

In reopening the square, the FHGC decided to implement a trial period when they would block traffic from entering the square and have people see how they about it. Susanna Hof of Terrace Sotheby’s International Realty, which has two offices at Station Square, said that they are weighing the community’s response to keeping this arrangement permanently.

Up until the construction last spring, cars were permitted to travel through the square going east or west and navigate the six streets that branch off from the square.

Hof told QNS that the popularity of Long Island Rail Road stop in the station has led to traffic problems in the square. She said that people waiting to pick up train passengers double-park or parking on both sides of the byway along the center island, which creates severe congestion. Hof worries that this creates a dangerous situation for pedestrians.

She added that she would also like to see a stop to car traffic for aesthetic reasons.

“From a purist point of view, the architectural appearance of the square in a way is impeded by the presence of all these automobiles – the honking – and then from a safety point of view also,” she said.

Originally founded in 1909, the square was designed as a gathering space for its residents. At that time, the horse carriages that passed through the space did not clash with its planned use as a pedestrian-friendly area.

“So there’s a safety element, there’s an architectural element and it’s the original aesthetic conception of the square as a place where the community could gather,” Hof said.

Though the FHGC left the square open to cars until the construction, they are responsible for deciding its fate. The streets are technically considered private. All common areas of the Station Square development are owned jointly by all the residents and run by a corporation of which the residents and members.

The FHGC will discuss the future of the square at its spring community meeting exclusively for its members at 7 p.m. on May 16 at the Church in the Gardens community house at 15 Borage Pl. The organization’s president Matthew Mandell will speak at the Community Board 6 meeting on June 12 about the square.