Lippmann Plaza, a pedestrian walkway in downtown Flushing, has been a problem for years with its graffitied walls and litter-strewn paths. Despite efforts by elected officials and volunteer groups, the site looks as bad today as it did more than 10 years ago.
Recently, Liz Vannicola, a longtime Flushing resident, contacted the Queens Chronicle to vent her frustration about the conditions in the plaza. “When young kids see graffiti, it sends the wrong message,” Vannicola said. “It becomes the norm and they think it’s okay.”
She has called the offices of area elected officials “but nothing gets done” and believes there should be ongoing cleanups at the site.
“It’s not artwork; it’s vandalizing and not welcoming,” Vannicola added.
The city upgraded the site in 2006 after talking about it since 2001. The work involved new lighting, plantings and tree pruning. But looking at the location now, the trees are just as big and sit in dingy pits of eroded soil and weeds. Litter abounds and the walls of businesses are covered in graffiti.
The plaza is a major connector for the 50,000 commuters who travel through the area every day using buses and the subway. It links Roosevelt Avenue, site of the No. 7 subway and several buses, with 39th Avenue, where there are more buses and Municipal Parking Lot 1.
Illegal street vendors set up tables at either end of the plaza, hawking their merchandise and adding to the confusion. Community Board 7 District Manager Marilyn Bitterman said police are trying to crack down, as it’s become a problem.
Bitterman noted that the property belongs to the Department of Transportation and that the Sanitation Department empties the trash cans.
Dian Yu, executive director of the Downtown Flushing Business Improvement District, said he was unaware of the situation and would ask the city to clean it up. “The city will contact the business owners to clean it up and if they don’t respond, the city will do it,” Yu said.
The executive director said he will “definitely look into it and resolve the matter” as well as monitor the area in the future.
Vannicola agrees the city should get involved but said businesses should be responsible too. “It’s an eyesore,” she added.
In the past, volunteer groups have tried to clean the area, but it was not done on a regular basis and not in the winter months.
The site is named after Paul Lippmann, a former Flushing merchant who ran a business for many years.