“This is step one, so here we are tonight kicking everything off,” said Zoe Piccolo, of the city Parks Planning Division, at the Nov. 16 Destination: Greenways! public workshop.
Over 150 participants tuned in to voice their opinions and suggestions on how to improve the greenway route from Flushing Meadows Corona Park to the Joe Michaels Mile along Little Neck Bay. The agency, along with the Department of Transportation, announced Oct. 29 that the project would identify gaps in existing networks, determine key needs and set priorities for park amenities.
The proposed route the Parks and DOT representatives shared with the group already exists, but has a plethora of deteriorating infrastructure and unsafe links that cross major streets. The project would amend these ailments, as well as implement amenities to make park patronage more appealing and increase daily usage.
“[The route is] this great, robust network that could use some improvements but the bones are really there for connecting,” Piccolo said.
Parks’ focus, she said, would be to provide a better experience within parks and to create an open space greenway system, while the DOT would be responsible for creating neighborhood links to bring the parks to the people and to improve on-street connections.
Amber Knee of the DOT’s Office of Street Improvement Programs added that the agency would invest in additional on-street infrastructure to improve safety for cyclists, especially in areas where they’re forced to share the road with traffic and merge with vehicles. The proposed on-street facilities, such as wider, protected bike lanes, would be accessible 24 hours a day and ensure safe connections between park links.
Dozens if not hundreds of suggestions were submitted to the agencies at the Monday night workshop, which ranged from general safety improvements to specific sites that needed immediate attention — “The pavement in Flushing Meadows Park is atrocious,” said Stephen Bauman, adding that it’s consistently flooded. The bike path tunnel underneath the Clearview Expressway suffers from the same problem, he said.
One participant said the agencies should model the route after the Joe Michaels Mile, which has many amenities other areas do not, such as appropriate signage, benches, a wider protected pedestrian path and concessions at the Bayside Marina. The addition of comfort stations near routes across the borough was raised, so that travelers don’t have to stray far from the path to find one. Another participant suggested parking for bikes so that riders could explore hiking paths along routes without worrying about becoming a victim of theft.
To make green spaces more appealing to a wider audience, many suggestions for farmers markets, movie nights, dog facilities and concession stands were made.
Destination: Greenways! also includes a portion of south Brooklyn. There is no schedule at this time for the project because the $1 million in funding, being provided by the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust, has not yet been secured.
“We don’t have the funding to implement these projects yet, but we hope to have these plans ready to go to say, ‘Hey look, this is approved by the community, everyone’s really excited about this, let’s fund this and let’s make it go,” Piccolo said.
Due to overwhelming interest, the Parks Department opened a second workshop session to Queens residents on Nov. 19 at 6:30 p.m. Pre-registration is required and can be done at bit.ly/32RA54V.