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Forest Hills Gardens Considering Making Station Square Pedestrian-Only

Forest Hills LIRR station

Station Square prior to Upgrade (QP)

May 23, 2019 By Meghan Sackman

Station Square in Forest Hills may be reserved for pedestrians only.

The Forest Hills Gardens Corporation, the organization that oversees the private roadway, is considering making the square traffic free.

The square, which was closed for 17 months in order for the brick roadway to be repaired, reopened May 5 to pedestrians. The historic area was slated to re-open to vehicular traffic at the end of this month, but the corporation is considering keeping the square permanently car free.

Station Square (Google Maps)

This plan would mean closing Burns Street and Greenway Terrace off to through traffic. However, 71st Street/ Continental Avenue would remain open.

Michael Perlman, Chair of Rego-Forest Preservation Council, is in support of the preservation of these roadways.

Perlman said keeping the square car- free would benefit the community in various ways including the preservation of the architectural history of the square, increasing traffic safety, and providing a space for community activities.

“The restoration and preservation of our community’s historical and distinctive streets and buildings is an essential means of celebrating our character and enhancing our quality of life,” Perlman said, who also added that keeping the square car-free would make community events such as history events and craft fairs possible.

Tony Barsamian, a Forest Hills Gardens Corp. board member, said the board is discussing these pros and cons of making the square car free. It is also considering hiring a traffic consultant to determine the impact the plan would have on traffic in the surrounding area.

He said the organization is looking into creating a survey to get feedback from residents.

Barsamian said the corporation’s board of directors would make the final decision. However, the decision would only be made after a traffic study was conducted and public feedback was considered, he added.

“The bottom line is Station Square is a beautiful architectural treasure,” Barsamian said. “Whatever decision is made will be in the interest of protecting that.”

 

 

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27 Comments

Daniel

I’ve been to the area, it’s actually quite nice. It’s safe, fairly quiet, kids can play catch and teens can talk to friends. I don’t understand the objection to the plate, it’s quite pleasant.

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DB

I’m not really surprised to see many negative responses here but I still find it pretty bizarre to see how many people think having a pedestrian-only plaza would be a terrible thing for the neighborhood. I expected to see lots of traffic complaints which is completely understandable – removing any roads would add pressure to an already congested area. But there seem to be a lot of people here who think that opening up this area as a car-free plaza (and essentially the same concept as a park/playground) think that scores of homeless people and loud, obnoxious kids will come around throwing trash everywhere.

This is a beautiful plaza that is rare to find in a place such as NYC and reminds me of the plazas that have become such vital community centerpieces in Europe. It should be celebrated as such and enjoyed by many of the residents (note that I think there should be a priority for the locals and not just tourists). Add to this the fact that the added pedestrians will result in more shoppers – both local and non-residents. People are more likely to spend money and help local business if they are able to walk around and go to multiple shops rather than drive and quickly stop somewhere before going elsewhere.

https://nyc.streetsblog.org/2013/12/20/dot-bennett-midland-study-economic-impact-retail-sales-bike-lanes-plazas-sbs/

So not to ramble any further, I’m not trying to pick a fight with this or tell everyone they’re dumb for not being open to this idea. I genuinely believe that something like this (if done correctly) will provide a positive outcome for the people who live in the area. If you disagree with this that’s fine but I don’t want to come across as just someone who think this will be a cool idea for people going to the stadium for concerts.

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Max

This is a silly proposal by the FHGC. First, you need car access to drop off and pick up passengers from the LIRR. Second, they will block off the area anyway when there are special events. Third, more people milling around will create more noise, litter, drinking in public, etc (but I don’t think homelessness will increase as some have suggested). Also cutting off SS, will create a lot of congestion on adjacent streets because you have 3 main roads going through there. Yes, NOT a good idea.

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Daniel

Its a safe place to actually just chill. With the topic of drop offs, they can walk the few steps to where there are cars.

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Fred Olmsted

The FHG plan is based on a central hub, Station Square. Closing it to traffic is a heart blockage, and couldn’t be further from preservation.

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Alan Lee

Aside from the noise and congestion, the are would become filthy. If people from the bars and nearby take out restaurants come to sit there, the garbage and littering would ruin this beautiful little enclave. If people want to sit, let them go to MacDonald Park.

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Deb K

Is there any other LIRR station in NYC or Long Island that doesn’t allow car access? The LIRR should close the Forest Hills station if this goes through.

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NoPedestrianPlazaPlease

FANTASTIC! Create an arena for non-residents to loiter and teenagers to litter, and homeless to sleep. This will be great! What could possibly be the downside to this?

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DB

Agreed! I think we should get rid of all the local parks, sidewalks, bus stops, etc. where homeless and vagrants can hang out. With the potential to get hit by cars, these bad people will just be pushed further away from our nice little neighborhood.

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FoHiFriends

Not only would this worsen the traffic situation on 71st and Ascan but it will also create a hangout for loud concert goers, teenagers and new place for the homeless to linger and aggressively panhandle to the individuals in the area. Nothing positive would come of this and the businesses in the square should be outraged that through traffic may impact their already quiet location.

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Kevin

This is all good news. As this is private property, the FHGC can aggressively deal with the homeless people.

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Ben Bradford

@Kevin You mean the way they do now with the ones that sleep on the steps from time to time? Wishful thinking but I would bet otherwise.

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Auto

Do it on weekends only. During the week, it causes too much traffic on side streets and by the school. Let’s face it, Burns st west of continental isn’t exactly the most picturesque stretch. It can afford to carry a little traffic relief.

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Diana

I live on the “less picturesque side”. I bought my home prior to the 18,000 seat stadium being used for concerts. In the summer over 10,000 people walk past my front door. I don’t love this but I deal with it. People speed down this street with no regard for children or anyone else. I agree with you that closing the square may only be practical on weekends. However, I believe the residents of 6 Burns Street may feel you are a bit short sighted. Our building is a beautiful landmark built in 1920 and cared for by the dedicated owners. Please watch what you say about our home and the addition of even more traffic!

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Seamus

Has anyone given consideration as to how difficult closing the square has made it already for passengers from out of town looking for their friends and or family there to pick them up? Not everyone wants to cab it, and not everyone wants to take the walk to the subway or bus. Seriously? That stretch of Continental has been a complete nightmare ( more so than usual) just with the repairs alone… close it for good? Better back up the trolley and think about it some more!

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Charlie

Simply an effort to usher attention and non-residents to the area businesses. No consideration for the residents of the neighborhood. Will increase street traffic, eliminate parking in surrounding areas and encourage pedestrian idling and invite people who are homeless. So glad a corporation has the decision in it’s hands.

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coced

How nice it would be if they closed the traffic altogether, including 71st/Continental… ah, sweet dreams )

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Pina Basu

As a former business owner in the inn I believe this would place station square businesses at a disadvantage. Not a good idea!

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Jeff Ossip

Being closed is already a hazard and creates a danger to the area causing cars to drive thru narrower streets.

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Ed Babcock

Question – Isn’t this going to make the traffic pr0bem on Austin Street much worse?

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Alan

Burns Street is a necessary through street. Without it cars are forced to detour circuitously through the Gardens. It is also a needed pick up point for LIRR riders

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Leo

There are pros and cons to it. As a 43-year resident of this neighborhood, I would welcome doing what we can to turn back the clock to a quieter, less congested neighborhood. I don’t live in the Gardens but there is a peacefulness that we’ve lost to a hustling, bustling modern world. Used to be different here, and I’m not talking about lack of diversity, I welcome diversity, I’m talking about quality of life due to following modernization.

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P. Beadle

I think it would be a great idea to create a public square like this. It would preserve the beauty and peacefulness of the area, provide an amenity to adjacent stores and restaurants – outdoor seating would be a wonderful addition, and it could also provide a venue for farmers markets, small performances and other events that would benefit the residents of the Gardens and of Forest Hills more generally.

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george

it would serve as a buffer to protect quiet neighborhoods from concert traffic and outside community speeders.

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Lisa Stewart

Sorry to disagree. You have no idea how congested the area is during rush hour. The square will serve as a late hang out. The concert goers are going to have a field day with the square. Try sitting on Continental Ave. There will be no noise buffer at all if square is closed. Multiple accidents have happened on Continental due to congestion, and even a death of a 28year old. Keep the heart of FHG traffic heart open to the veins, and cappilaries, as it was intended to be!
It seems as though the Forest Hills committee has an agenda, it’s apparent either they live on or close to the square or they dont drive. Very disappointing. I hope people will join to stop this from taking place. Leave the square the way it was meant to be.

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