EAST VILLAGE — Nine multicolored, mosaic-encrusted light poles that have stood on Astor Place for years could become part of the plaza’s redesign.
Community Boards 2 and 3 will meet Tuesday night at Grace Church School to hear two proposals that would incorporate the lampposts, which were previously not included in the Astor Place redesign and were removed from the area in October.
The light poles feature artwork by Jim “Mosaic Man” Power, who has decorated dozens of poles in the East Village for decades.
“There’s such strong community support of this,” said William Kelley, executive director of the Village Alliance, which has been working with the Department of Transportation, City Lore and Power to come up with a way to add the lampposts to the site.
The groups will present two design options created by WXY Studio and ask for the community boards' input before seeking approval from the Department of Design and Construction, Kelly said.
One option would place the light poles in roughly the same areas they stood before the redesign, on East Eighth Street between Lafayette Street and Cooper Square.
A second proposed design would line the lampposts alongside trees in front of the Cooper Union foundation building.
“This has the benefit of all being together and telling one story,” Kelley said, adding it could also work as a starting point for the Mosaic Trail, a series of similarly decorated light poles throughout the East Village.
The groups originally came up with a third design option, in which the poles would be placed in three different clusters in Cooper Square, but they decided not to move forward with it because they did not find it compelling, he said.
If the DDC decides to incorporate the lampposts into the redesign, they will no longer be functional and will simply serve as decorative objects topped with steel caps instead of lights, Kelley said. The groups have also considered placing a plaque with Power’s name and some information about the work, but have not yet come up with a formal plan, he said.
Kelley said it could take two to four months for the proposal to go through the DDC.
The city had originally planned to remove the lampposts as part of the redesign, which aims to make Astor Place more pedestrian-friendly, but decided to preserve them “because they are historic artifacts,” a DOT spokeswoman said in August.
At the same time, Power began chipping away at his work as preemptive strike against the city and as a way to protest the redesign.
While he still doesn’t agree with the project, he decided to work with the community groups and find a way to preserve his work, he said.
“My suspicions dwindled as I realized that they weren’t going to steer me off,” Power said, calling the plans “fabulous.”
A DDC contractor removed the poles in October and covered them in bubble wrap before placing them in a DOT storage facility in Queens, according to an agency spokeswoman. Community Board 3 posted the proposed designs online in late November.