Bronx Advocates Push for New Pedestrian Plaza in Soundview

Today, Harrod Place separates a green triangle from a busy park. A local group hopes to convert it to a plaza. Photo: Google Maps
Harrod Place separates an underutilized green triangle (left) from a park. A local group hopes to convert it to a plaza. Photo: Google Maps

Near the intersection of Morrison and Westchester Avenues in Soundview, just a block from the Bronx River Parkway, one block separates a forlorn green triangle from Parque de Los Niños and its well-used benches and baseball diamonds. Now, a local group is hoping to phase in public space upgrades to the area through DOT’s plaza program. The first step received support from Community Board 9 last month.

Last fall, Youth Ministries for Peace and Justice applied to the plaza program, hoping to eventually convert a section of Harrod Place into a plaza linking the commercial area along Westchester Avenue with the park. In May, DOT hosted a workshop at the public library on Morrison Avenue to present concepts and gather feedback.

The plan would start with curb extensions and plaza upgrades. The local group behind the plan hopes for a full plaza eventually. Image: DOT
Improvements would start with curb extensions and public space upgrades. The local group behind the plan hopes to eventually pedestrianize one block of Harrod Place  — the side street in this plan. Image: DOT

DOT came back with a plan to add painted curb extensions, planters, benches, tables and chairs [PDF]. It would remove three parking spaces while DOT says four spaces could be added elsewhere on Harrod by adjusting regulations. YMPJ, advised by the Neighborhood Plaza Partnership, has promised to maintain the space and aims to program it with public art, a farmers market, and exercise groups. The plan gained the support of CB 9 on June 19.

“It’s a pretty underutilized street in many ways,” YMPJ executive director David Shuffler said. His group has spoken with many of the adjacent businesses, which he said do most of their loading through front doors on Westchester Avenue.

While DOT’s proposal doesn’t make Harrod car-free, Shuffler hopes the project can evolve into a fully pedestrianized plaza. “My understanding is that this would be the first phase, and they would be looking for funds for the second phase, which is the complete plaza,” he said. ““We talked to the local businesses, and they said it was okay.”

DOT says its crews have patched potholes and addressed other road conditions in preparation for the first round of changes, which Shuffler hopes to see implemented within a month.

  • AnoNYC

    I love this improvement. It does make a difference and will highlight the uselessness of allowing automobiles to traverse Harrod Pl.

    However, I wish they would just demolish that small commercial building in the middle (Currently a bank/H&R Block and a few low income businesses) and build a mixed use residential with ground floor commercial spaces on all sides of the same footprint. After all, the train station is across the street.

    It’s a very dense and vibrant neighborhood.

    BTW, a couple blocks south, Rosedale Ave between Lafayette and Soundview Aves is ripe for pedestrianization and still waiting for the pedestrian space on Close Ave just south Westchester Ave.

  • Lakeshore Strangler

    Great idea as long as the thugs from the projects near by don’t use it as a hang out. And yes get rid of the low income housing.

  • Brian Perez

    Yes please do i totally agree

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

Nine NYC Bike-Ped Projects Get Federal Funds From State DOT

|
Nine bicycle and pedestrian projects in New York City are receiving federal funds distributed through New York State DOT, according to an announcement late last month by Governor Andrew Cuomo. The projects range from pedestrian safety fixes on streets near busy expressways to upgraded plazas and greenways. The New York City awards are: South Bronx […]

City Begins to Reclaim Space for Pedestrians at Fordham Plaza

|
The multi-year project to improve Fordham Plaza in the Bronx — a critical transit hub — entered its latest phase yesterday with the groundbreaking for a bigger and better public space for pedestrians. Each day, more than 80,000 pedestrians flow through Fordham Plaza, the crossroads of a dozen bus lines (including two Select Bus Service […]

Eyes on the Street: Jackson Heights Triangle Turns Into a Plaza

|
Sometimes, it’s the little things that make a big difference. Manuel de Dios Unanue Triangle provides a speck of green along Roosevelt Avenue in the packed Jackson Heights neighborhood, but for years, there was nowhere to sit. Even the brick wall surrounding the trees was topped with two spike strips to discourage people from resting for […]