Dromm Opens Summer Plaza On 78th Street
On Thursday, New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, Councilmember Daniel Dromm, Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley, Department of Transportation Borough Commissioner Maura McCarthy and other elected and city officials opened the Jackson Heights–78th Street Temporary Summer Plaza in Queens.
The temporary Summer Plaza is part of the New York city Department of Transportation and Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s citywide initiative to transform underused streets into public spaces.
Located on 78th Street between Northern Boulevard and 34th Avenue in Jackson Heights, this car-free street will provide open space for adults and children and will be open until August 31. In September and October, it will be open on Sundays through October 31.
“This is a creative solution to providing additional open space for our growing community. One of the top concerns expressed to me by my constituents was the lack of open space,” said Dromm (D–Jackson Heights). “This community-led endeavor proves what can be done when you are willing to think outside the box.”
“I’m thrilled to see communities like Jackson Heights open select streets for active play, and I encourage other neighborhoods to follow this example,” said Farley.
“We are pleased to have worked with the community to create this temporary pedestrian plaza which everyone can use to better enjoy their streets,” said McCarthy. “We will evaluate the project over the next two months.”
For the past two years, the Jackson Heights Green Alliance, along with the support of other community groups and volunteers, has successfully managed a Play Street on Sundays from June to November in the neighborhood.
“This Plaza/Playstreet project allows Jackson Heights residents space for activities from chalk painting and ball games to learning to ride a bike. We are excited about the possibilities,” said Dudley Stewart cofounder of the Jackson Heights Green Alliance.
The entrance to 78th Street from Northern Boulevard will be closed with planters and/or barricades. Additionally, the left-turn signal at the stoplight at the same intersection will be turned off. At night, similar to Travers Park, the street will be closed for public activity and will remain open to pedestrians and cyclists.
The Playstreets program to create more open spaces for active play is a collaboration between the New York City Department of Transportation (DOT), the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH), and the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation. The program’s goal is to help families be more active and help address the city’s childhood obesity epidemic, 43 percent of NYC elementary school students and 42 percent of two to four year olds in the Head Start program are overweight or obese. The program can also help New York be a greener city by encouraging families to go outside and play instead of watching television and using air conditioners which are major users of electricity.