JACKSON HEIGHTS — A forlorn plaza on the border of Jackson Heights and Elmhurst will receive a $200,000 facelift, city officials announced.
Dunningham Triangle at 82nd Street and Baxter Avenue will receive $150,000 from the office of Queens Borough President Helen Marshall and $50,000 in mayoral funds, Marshall and Mayor Michael Bloomberg said.
The money will be used to spruce up the triangle, with a new park being put in so that locals will have a green, useable public space in an area that has one of the lowest percentages of open spaces in the borough, according to the Jackson Heights Green Alliance, a community organization that promotes open spaces in the area.
“There is a need for a public gathering space, a place where shoppers can relax and have a good time,” said Seth Taylor, executive director of 82nd Street Partnership, a non-profit that promotes business in the area.
The triangle’s renovation comes just months after the opening of the new Jackson Heights pedestrian plaza on 74th Street and Roosevelt Avenue.
The bid to renovate Dunningham Triangle has been received enthusiastically by the locals like Carlos Correa, a resident of nearby Judge Street who works in the neighborhood.
He said he would be happy to have a place to hang during breaks, saying in Spanish, "Right now, no chair. No good," referring to the lack of chairs in and around the triangle.
The park, however, has to be first cleaned up.
“All I see right now are a lot of pigeons,” said Juan Carlos, who owns the Italian restaurant Limoncello near the triangle. “And rats. There are a lot of rats.”
After the clean-up, there will be a re-design with the help of the 82ndStreet Alliance and the Parks Department.
“In the interim, we will have some music and cultural events in the space,” said Seth Taylor, the alliance's executive director.
The park will house movable furniture that will be stowed at night to keep people from loitering in the dark, Taylor said.
For locals like Steven Gruber, who was born and raised in Jackson Heights and is the third generation running the appliance store The Sewing Outlet, the renovation ahead of summer "comes at a great time."
“Earlier, the park wasn’t being managed properly,” Gruber said, adding the renovation would have a positive impact on the neighborhood and provide the locals with a clean, green space to hang out in. “I look forward to having my lunch in there.”