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Steinway Street Needs Its Own 'Town Square'-Style Plaza, Councilman Says

By Jeanmarie Evelly | February 3, 2017 9:59am | Updated on February 6, 2017 8:05am
 Restaurants and shops on Astoria's Steinway Street.
Restaurants and shops on Astoria's Steinway Street.
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DNAinfo/Ewa Kern-Jedrychowska

ASTORIA — A local lawmaker wants to overhaul Steinway Street, calling for pedestrian-friendly upgrades for the busy shopping corridor and the construction of a public plaza or park space there.

Costa Constantinides announced the proposal during his State of the District address Tuesday night, in which he called Steinway Street "the beating commercial heart of Astoria" but said it lacks a public space where people can gather.

He envisions a "town square-type" plaza on the street with tables and chairs that could be used for community events.

"Having that space for a holiday tree lighting, or a movie night or a concert — just having a space where people can come together and eat lunch," he said.

Though he hasn't identified a specific spot for it, the councilman says he plans to put together a group of residents and local stakeholders in the coming weeks to help identify a location for the project.

Constantinides also wants the Department of Transportation to make traffic changes along the street, including the addition of mid-block crosswalks so shoppers can cross the street without having to walk the long distance to the next avenue's crosswalk.

"If you want to get across the street, you have to go 1,000 extra feet or a fifth of a mile just to get to a store that you can see directly across [the street]," he said.

The DOT said it studied the possibility of mid-block crossings for Steinway Street last year and determined they weren't recommended for the roadway, according to Spokeswoman Alana Morales, though she wouldn't immediately say why.

But the agency does plan to implement a "Leading Pedestrian Interval" at the intersection of Steinway Street and Astoria Boulevard North, which allows pedestrians more time to cross.

They will be installed by next month, according to Morales.