David Byrne in Corona to Celebrate $800K Grant for Pedestrian Plazas
CORONA — Corona Plaza and other public spaces around the city got a major cash infusion Tuesday from banking giant J.P. Morgan Chase that will help maintain the greenspace as new features are added in the coming years.
DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan joined executives from Chase, Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras, Councilman Danny Dromm, state Sen. Jose Peralta and even Talking Heads lead singer David Byrne to celebrate the $800,000 grant that will be used by plazas across the city, including Corona Plaza.
Ferreras, who was a champion for the space, said it costs between $50,000 and $75,000 every year to maintain the plaza — and the cash infusion will go a long way.
"To be able to stand here today, for families to be able to enjoy this space, is really such a reward," Ferreras said.
Dromm, who represents nearby Jackson Heights, said the public space was an "issue of social justice, issue of economic justice" to have a plaza that serves both communities.
"Our communities deserve to have plazas just as much as the other communities where there are large corporate sponsors," he said.
The DOT already has 59 plazas installed or in various stages of development, totaling 26 new acres of public space, according to the agency.
The revamped Corona Plaza was unveiled in August 2012, turning the street into a 13,000-square-foot public oasis near the subway. It was a joint effort between business and public space advocates, according to the DOT.
Last August, the DOT said the plaza will be permanent, and released possible renderings of the space's future — including a stage, improved lighting, additional green space and more seating.
The ceremony included a performance by La Cumbiamba, seed planting with students from nearby P.S 16, and even had a special appearance by Byrne, who lives in New York City and has worked to advocate for safer, more bike-friendly streets.
"I'm not personally involved in this plaza, but I'm a musician and I live and work and am very supportive of these things going up everywhere," Byrne said.
"I'm just here to be supportive, and hope that this kind of iniative continues in the city."