Apr. 25, 2023 By Bill Parry
Woodside residents marked Earth Day on Saturday, April 22, by flooding their Open Street along a stretch of Woodside Avenue between 76th Street to 79th Street. The event also served as a celebration of Songkran, the Thai New Year that took place from April 13 to 15.
Thai Community USA offered arts and crafts and there were performances of traditional Thai dancing and visitors feasted on Thai cuisine from vendors along the open street, which was part of the citywide launch of the 2023 Open Streets program which features nearly 160 locations stretching nearly 300 blocks.
The city’s Department of Transportation announced that it would bring capital upgrades to Woodside Avenue in the near future and will add additional upgrades to the popular 34th Avenue Open Street in Jackson Heights and Corona and it will also bring a new Open Street to South Jamaica.
“The Open Streets program has been a major boon to Queens residents looking for new and better ways to enjoy the outdoors and to experience the vibrancy of our borough and city,” Queens Borough President Donovan Richards said. “The new additions to the Open Streets program announced today are a great way to build upon the program’s strong momentum and to further our ongoing efforts to transform our relationship with our surroundings. I encourage Queens residents and all New Yorkers to make full use of the recreational opportunities offered by our Open Streets.”
DOT announced new Open Street applications for 2023 in Queens including 136th Street, 141st Street, 29th Street, 46th Street, 84th Street, Inwood Street and Justice Avenue.
“Streets belong to all New Yorkers, no matter the neighborhood,” said Councilwoman Selvena Brooks-Powers, Chair of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. “I am excited to see the Open Streets program expanded into more neighborhoods, including in southeast Queens, and I will continue to work with DOT to ensure our roads are accessible and safe for all street users.”
Councilwoman Nantasha Williams applauded the DOT’s announcement.
“Thrilled to hear the announcement of the Open Streets for the 2023 season will again include Addisleigh Park, of my district. Open Streets is a crucial step towards fostering community engagement, encouraging healthy and active lifestyles and ensuring pedestrian safety,” Williams said. “I am excited about the prospect of safer streets in southeast Queens, and coupled with the Department of Transportation’s plans to prioritize pedestrians with permanent redesigns, we will create long-lasting positive changes in the city.”
State Senator John Liu was pleased to see new Open Streets coming to northeast Queens.
“The open streets program helps bring new life to our city by allowing for a range of neighborhood-friendly activities that promote economic development, support schools, and provide new ways for New Yorkers to get involved, connect and enjoy their community,” Liu said. “The existing Open Street locations in Flushing and Bayside have brought people together in new and exciting ways, and I look forward to seeing even more communities take advantage of this expanding program so they too can get outside and get involved in everything their community has to offer.”
Longtime Astoria resident Juan Restrepo, Transportation Alternative director of organizing, is pleased to see the program expand to new areas of Queens.
“Open Streets are safe, popular, and lively places for New Yorkers to gather. When we reclaim spaces from cars and open them to people, great things happen. To ensure the program continues to succeed, they need to be permanent fixtures of the streetscape,” Restrepo said. “We’re glad to see new locations receive capital upgrades from the city and look forward to working with DOT to expand permanent Open Streets equitably across our city, especially in the outer boroughs.”
A full list of the 2023 Open Streets programs can be found on the DOT’s website here.
Additional reporting by Paul Frangipane.