Two Public Plazas to Be Built Beneath 7 Train Tracks

By Jeanmarie Evelly on April 15, 2014 12:41pm 

 The Sunnyside Shines BID set up tables and chairs last year under the 46th Street station for Make Music New York, a day of free concerts. The BID is working with the DOT to establish a public plaza at the station, and at the 40th Street station.
The Sunnyside Shines BID set up tables and chairs last year under the 46th Street station for Make Music New York, a day of free concerts. The BID is working with the DOT to establish a public plaza at the station, and at the 40th Street station.
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SUNNYSIDE — The city will install new public plazas beneath two subway stations in Sunnyside this summer, officials said.

The new sites  — which will include tables, chairs and decorative planters — will be set up under the elevated 7 train tracks at the 40th Street and 46th Street stations on Queens Boulevard, as part of a Department of Transportation program to create more open spaces in the city.

The Sunnyside Shines Business Improvement District applied to the DOT's NYC Plaza Program to revamp the sites, and the BID will be in charge of the maintaining and planning events at the plazas throughout the year.

Director Rachel Thieme said they tested out the concept last year, when musicians performed at the two stations for Make Music New York, a day of free concerts around the city. The BID set up tables and chairs beneath the elevated tracks for the event.

"It's so simple, but it really transformed the space," Thieme said. "As soon as we had them set up, people were sitting. It was just the most fun public space experiment."

The BID is also planning another big event at the 46th Street station next month, when the Taste of Sunnyside food festival will take place under a large tent set up beneath the elevated tracks.

In the past, residents had complained about pigeon droppings at the 46th Street station and others in Sunnyside and Woodside, though Thieme says an extensive bird mitigation system — installed at the station and two others last year — resolved the problem by taking away spots for the birds to roost.

"There's nowhere for a pigeon to build a nest anymore," she said.

As part of plazas program, the DOT will provide the BID with materials for redesigning the space, including benches, planters and movable tables and chairs.

Specific design plans will be discussed at a public meeting April 30, Thieme said.

The plans will then be brought before Queens Community Board 2, where chairman Joe Conley said he welcomes the idea.

"It's exciting news," he said. "It's something we've been working with the community on — to make that space better, and a better experience for pedestrians."

CB2 had been trying to clear the spaces under the 7 train stations of food carts and street vendors. Conley said many vendors had been operating illegally and were making the sites "very congested."

"It became a regular bazaar," he said, saying there are no longer any sellers at the 46th Street station. The board is working to relocate a food cart at the 40th Street site, Conley said.

"There [are] many places for food carts and street vendors to be in the community," he said, saying that he envisions the planned public plazas as a "place for people to wait [that's] safe and clean and well-lit."

A community outreach meeting to discuss designs and programming at the planned plazas will be held on Wednesday, April 30 at 6:30 p.m. at Sunnyside Community Services, 43-13 39th St.

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