ST. GEORGE — Major improvements to St. George are needed before a tourist influx is expected to arrive in the neighborhood with the opening of the New York Wheel, a local community board said.
Community Board 1 wants the city to add new sidewalks, street lights and transportation upgrades before the attraction arrives, scheduled for three years.
It's proposing a preliminary budget request for the city to pay for some of the proposed changes and study others.
"We believe that we need to think not as Staten Islanders but as visitors of Staten Island," said board chair Leticia Remauro.
"What can we do to make their experience better? How can we facilitate them not only coming off of the ferry to visit, but to get them into Staten Island."
"We're trying to look ahead to when that ribbon cutting occurs, so that we capture the attention of tourists and other city dwellers," Remauro said.
"We want to be ahead of the curve, we don't want to be reactionary. If we don't plan for it then we're going to be waiting for years and you only get one chance to make a good impression."
One of the major improvements in the budget proposal is to install and widen the 1.8 miles of sidewalk on Richmond Terrace between the St. George Ferry Terminal and Snug Harbor Cultural Center.
Currently on the waterfront side of the street, sections get blocked off by utility poles and several blocks near Snug Harbor have no sidewalk at all, Remauro said.
The budget also asked for $1 million to install street lamps along several blocks in Stapleton and St. George — which currently have none — and $150,000 to put in smart traffic lights and left turn signals at several busy intersections.
The plan also calls on the city's Economic Development Corporation to start a study on the North Shore Greenway, which would link New Brighton to South Beach on the waterfront.
The Department of Transportation said that they would monitor the waterfront side of Richmond Terrace for future sidewalk repair and repaving.
The study was funded as part of the City Council's provisions to include the Ferris wheel and outlet mall, and Remauro said they want the city to get on it now so they can have it in place soon after they both open.
"We would like the study to be done so that we can map it and so we can actually make it a living, breathing thing," she said.
The budget request also asks for $1.5 million to repave a section of Richmond Terrace and to fund a study to see if making Bay Street one-way between Hylan Boulevard to Richmond Terrace could clear up potential congestion once the projects open.
The board already approved the budget at its subcommittee last week and will vote on it at the full board meeting on Tuesday.