Kips Bay to Test Pedestrian Plaza for Three Months
KIPS BAY — The Department of Transportation has agreed to turn a three-block service road in Kips Bay into a pedestrian plaza for three months this summer, beginning in May.
Community members said they were expecting a variety of organizations to fill the space with food, music and entertainment, providing a gathering spot for a neighborhood that has a shortage of open space.
The move marks the next step toward turning the service road that stretches along Second Avenue between East 30th and 33rd streets into a permanent public plaza — a prospect that has gathered ample support from area residents and community advocates.
Last year, the DOT agreed to give the proposal a test run, closing down the strip that is only used for parking during three daylong street fairs.
"It’s much more of a neighborhood festival," Mark Thompson, chairman of Community Board 6, said last summer. "It’s a very relaxed, fun atmosphere."
But this summer’s three-month closure will provide a more serious test of how the space will fare as a public plaza.
Banishing cars from the stretch of road means that about 50 metered parking spots will be eliminated, but a DOT spokesman said other on-street parking in the neighborhood and a parking garage under Kips Bay Towers will make up for the lost spaces.
The spokesman said the DOT received a positive response after last year’s three-day test, and members of Community Board 6 have strongly supported the concept.
At a recent meeting, the community board passed a resolution in favor of the three-month plaza project this summer.
"This is like a baby step," said Molly Hollister, a vice chairwoman of the Community Board 6 public safety, transportation and environment committee. "I hope we can show [the DOT] that it is needed and [that] people come out."
Hollister said many of the groups that participated in last summer’s series of street fairs — which became known as Kips Bay Community Days — will return to the plaza this summer.
Repertorio Espanol, a Spanish-language theater company, will put on puppet shows, Hollister said. Representatives from the New York City Public Library will read stories to children. Solar One, the city’s first green-energy, arts-and-education center, will sponsor exhibits, and farmers markets will sell local fruits and vegetables, Hollister added.
A specific schedule has not yet been solidified, but organizers are actively working to attract even more groups to the new space, she said.
"You just can’t expect to throw out a few things and people will come" Hollister said. "You really need to have events and things happening."