The plaza, which was completed around six weeks ago, closed a short block of Ashford Street between Livonia and New Lots Avenues. That enabled the Department of Transportation to connect a tiny, 800 square foot triangle in the middle of the street to the sidewalk, creating a new 3,800 square foot space.
All that new public space was in heavy use today, as visitors were treated to a DJ playing hip-hop and reggae, a Thanksgiving turkey raffle, and the gospel choir of the local America Come Back to God Christian Academy, seen above singing “The Best Is Yet To Come.”
But even before the event kicked off, East New York residents were enjoying the movable furniture in place. Ceciline Frank was walking past the area with a friend and decided to sit down and drink a coffee. “It’s a different environment,” she said of the plaza. “It’s an upliftment for us here.”
Eddie Di Benedetto, the owner of a local pizza parlor and the head of the New Lots Avenue Triangle Merchants Association, which sponsored the plaza, said businesses have already seen a boost from the new pedestrian space. “They love the fact they’re having tables and chairs,” he said. The plaza, he predicted, will become “a crown jewel of our community.”
According to Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan, in 18 months the plaza will be upgraded from its current design, which uses granite blocks and planters to mark off the space, to a more permanent form.
The New Lots Triangle sits directly below the final stop on the 3 train in Brooklyn, and the station exit lets deposits people onto what used to be a narrow sidewalk. “You would get off the number 3 and actually step right off into traffic,” said Sadik-Khan. The plaza, she said, creates “a great new welcome mat for the community.”
The plaza is also expected to improve safety. Sadik-Khan noted that 14 people had been injured in traffic crashes over the last five years at this location.
City Council Member Charles Barron also spoke in support of the plaza this morning. “This beautification is a step in the right direction to let people know we’re taking pride in our community,” he said. To open his remarks, Barron led the crowd in chanting “East New York is on the rise.”
Also in attendance were staff members for Assembly Member Inez Barron and Senate Minority Leader John Sampson.
More photos of the plaza below: