New Court Square Subway Station Design Invites Peeping Toms, Residents Say

By Ewa Kern-Jedrychowska on May 1, 2012 11:56am | Updated on May 1, 2012 12:17pm

The platform at the Court Square station is about 10 to 15 feet from residents' bedroom windows, and divided only by transparent mesh windscreens.
The platform at the Court Square station is about 10 to 15 feet from residents' bedroom windows, and divided only by transparent mesh windscreens.
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DNAinfo/Ewa Kern-Jedrychowska

LONG ISLAND CITY — Some people are willing to pay extra to live near a subway station. But for the residents of buildings on 23rd Street, the redesigned Court Square station has become a little too close.
 
Tenants residing on the blocks between Jackson Avenue and 44th Drive say that mesh windscreens on the station platform — about 10 to 15 feet from their bedroom windows — allow straphangers waiting for the elevated train to look directly into their apartments.

"It’s unacceptable," said Tina Erez, who lives in a third-floor apartment. "We have to keep the curtains closed all the time. We have no choice."

She said she caught a man standing on the platform staring directly into the house while her teenage daughter was home alone.

When she complained to the MTA, "they told me that it’s part of the design," she said.

"So design comes before privacy?" she asked angrily.

Another resident, who identified himself as Richie, but didn’t want to give his last name, said that since the windscreens were installed, bright lights illuminating the platform at night also light up his apartment. "Before, I never noticed them," he said. "Now, it’s a problem."

Currently, most windscreens at stations along the 7 train line are covered with stained glass or thick, opaque glass blocks, which give residents of nearby buildings more privacy.

Joseph Conley, the Community Board 2 transportation committee chairman, said he has spoken to the MTA about the privacy complaints.

"They’re looking at how to rectify this situation and we are waiting for their response," said Conley, who was also told that the MTA is installing the transparent panels at elevated stations around the city. "So it’s not just this location."

When the Court Square station reopened in early April after weeks of renovations, residents of 23rd Street thought the worst was over.  They cheered the end of service disruptions and noise.

The renovation of the Court Square station — the Long Island City transit hub connecting the 7 train with the G, E and M trains — is part of the MTA plan to upgrade the Flushing Line. The 7 train service was suspended between Queensboro Plaza and Times Square for 11 weekends beginning January 21. The Court Square Station was entirely closed on the 7 line until last month.

Station rehabilitation included construction of a new escalator.
Station rehabilitation included construction of a new escalator.
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DNAinfo/Ewa Kern-Jedrychowska

Station rehabilitation included platform and windscreen replacement and the enhancement of accessibility features with the installation of ADA boarding areas, tactile warning strips and signage, according to the MTA.

The station is now open, but construction work is continuing. It is scheduled to be completed in June — another problem for the residents of 23 Street.

"It was really noisy when they were building the new escalator. The whole area was shaking," said Mary McGarvey, who has lived on the corner of 23rd Street and 45th Avenue for six years. "Recently, they also took some wooden panels off, which used to buffer the sound, so sometimes it’s even noisier now."

Deirdre Parker, an MTA spokeswoman, said that "our government and community relations unit will look into the issue of noise and the complaints nearby residents have with the new platform design." She added that the station’s design would be "the design for elevated stations going forward."

Meanwhile, straphangers waiting at the station had mixed reactions to the issue.

"It’s New York, and many people live in close proximity to train stations. You get what you pay for," said one unsympathetic passenger dashing away as a train was arriving.

Richie Ruiz, a Greenpoint resident, who often passes through the station, was more understanding. "If I lived here, I would like to have some privacy," he said. "As soon as they turn their lights on, they have a problem."

His girlfriend, Monika, doubted that riders pay much attention. "People are just passing," she said. "They don’t care."

23rd Street just below the Court Square station
23rd Street just below the Court Square station
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DNAinfo/Ewa Kern-Jedrychowska

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