Public Plaza Meeting to Beautify Staten Island Draws a Crowd of None
STATEN ISLAND — Guess Staten Island's perfect enough already.
A meeting to get public input on plans to beautify the island's North Shore drew an unimpressive crowd — the sole attendee was a reporter from DNAinfo New York.
The information session on the "NYC Plaza Program," which plans to bring an open space like the newly pedestrianized parts of Times Square to the area, had been organized by the Department of Transportation Wednesday.
The meeting, at Borough Hall in St. George, was intended for residents and members of non-profit organizations to ask questions and give feedback on where the space should be established.
The program, part of Mayor Michael Bloomberg's PlaNYC, is on its fifth round of applications. It will take roadway beds and transform them into public spaces, with chairs and tables similar to the Times Square transformation.
But, even though the session drew no Staten Islanders, the program's director still intends to submit applications for the program.
"Sometimes we come into for a session and there are few people and then we get a lot of applications from the community board and the borough," Vaidila Kungys said.
Community leaders said the lack of attendance today was not because of waning interest in the program, but the time they found out about the meeting.
"I think this meeting was a timing issue," said Leticia Remauro, district manager of Community Board 1.
"We got notice relatively late that it was going to take place. I wouldn't read into the fact that nobody attending that meeting is a problem."
Remauro said that her community board loves the plaza program and has been working with the DOT on it for Staten Island.
The DOT received 22 applications in the first round citywide, and areas in Brooklyn and Manhattan have been approved. This round'ss applications are due June 13.
They are submitted by local non-profits, usually business improvement districts, and must have support from residents and the community board, Kungys said.
After June 13, the DOT reviews the applications and selects plans to approve. The spaces in this round will be completed around 2015, the DOT said, and the non-profit agrees to maintain them after construction.
The DOT already agreed to put a public plaza on Van Name Street in Elm Park, Remauro said. She added that the community is looking for a non-profit to apply for another plaza at Waldron Avenue in Grymes Hill.
However, Staten Island has generally submitted fewer applications in previous rounds than other boroughs, Kungys said.
"There are fewer non-profits in Staten Island," he said.
"Typically we don't get anywhere near the amount of applications as we do in Brooklyn or Manhattan."
Kungys said that in this round, the DOT considered Port Richmond, an area with a large amount of people and no open-spaces, as a neighborhood to consider a public plaza.
Information sessions have already been held in Manhattan, the Bronx and Queens. Kungys said that attendance records have been lower in those two because the process is in the fifth round.
"Every year it becomes harder," he said.
Another session is scheduled for Brooklyn at the DOT Brooklyn Borough Office on Friday at 10 a.m. Residents from other boroughs can attend.