The city is creating cooling options on existing Open Streets, or “Cool Streets,” in the most heat-burdened communities for the summer. Sunnyside and South Richmond Hill will be two of the first neighborhoods to be tapped.
Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the initiative earlier this week as part of the city’s larger Cool It! NYC program, which includes installing air conditioners for low-income seniors.
The New York City Department of Environmental Protection and FDNY will install spray caps on the streets’ hydrants to ensure New Yorkers in the most heat-burdened communities aren’t more than 1/4 mile away from an outdoor cooling element. The city will activate 250 new cooling elements, in addition to the existing 950, and will add spray caps to 320 fire hydrants during hot weather.
The Cool Streets initiative will focus on the Open Streets located in areas that rank highest on the Heat Vulnerability Index, mainly those on zones 4 and 5. A citywide map of cooling elements can be found on Cool It! NYC’s page, with the DOT’s Open Streets map also highlighting each Cool Street.
In Queens, the first round of Cool Streets will be located on Sunnyside’s Open Street on 39th Avenue, from Woodside Avenue to Barnett Avenue, and South Richmond Hill’s Open Street on 120th Street, from Atlantic Avenue to Liberty Avenue.
“Summer is very much here, and we need all of the tools at our disposal to keep New Yorkers safe and cool — especially during such unprecedented times,” said Deputy Mayor Laura Anglin. “We have seen the success of our Open Streets program across the five boroughs, so it only made sense to find ways to utilize these streets with our broader cooling strategy. While we encourage New Yorkers to remain inside as much as possible during extreme heat events, these Cool Streets will give our most vulnerable New Yorkers a spot to stay cool outdoors when the city heats up.”