City Launches “Public Plaza Initiative” at DUMBO Pocket Park

Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan launched New York City’s new Public Plaza Initiative with the opening of a new pocket park in DUMBO yesterday. "A short time ago, this was a barren parking lot," Sadik-Khan said. "But people immediately filled up this space as the green came in. That speaks to the hunger and demand that New Yorkers have for this sort of space." That’s DUMBO Business Improvement District executive director Tucker Reed standing to the commissioner’s left in the photo above. Reed’s organization is responsible for the maintenance of the new plaza.

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Melvin Westry from Ready Willing & Able helps to maintain the plaza and its plantings on behalf of Reed’s organization. "It’s a popular spot," Westry said, pointing to the blue umbrellas over a half dozen cafe tables. "People have been coming more and more since we gave them some shade. They’re eating lunch, opening laptops, some are meeting, some just sit and relax. It’s nice. I think we need some more. Turn every triangle into one of these."

DOT Assistant Commissioner Andy Wiley-Schwartz, said the agency currently has 31 plaza projects in the pipeline throughout the city and they are looking for more plaza opportunities. "We want to find places in every Community Board district where there are community partners who can help maintain and run a place like this," Schwartz said. "This DUMBO project is the perfect example. We had a BID that wanted to make it happen, adjacent land uses that support it, and its on a direct pedestrian path between the subway East River Park. The key is to have a BID or some community partner willing to take care of the space." That is Schwartz, above, in the suit jacket, sitting with DOT press officer Chris Gilbride and Commissioner Sadik-Kahn prior to yesterday’s press conference. That’s the Brookyn’s Brown coffee truck in the background, parked along one side of the Plaza during lunch hour. The sculpture at right was created by an artist who works in the neighborhood.

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A DJ sets up a turntable outside of the Halcyon Gallery across the street from the Plaza. DOT’s Bridges Division donated the giant granite blocks that mark the plaza’s border. They are just the right size for sitting and keeping out vehicles.

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I’m told that the double-white lines are used in place of a curb. Tucker Reed said that at some point in the future the DUMBO BID and City DOT plan to dig up the green asphalt to bare the old, original belgian block street surface. 

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The plaza is dotted with sulptures by local artisits, like the drift wood sculpture at lower right. The red building at the base of the plaza is currently under renovation. Reed expects that the landlord will lease the ground floor space to a cafe or some other tenant who can take advantage of and add value to the new plaza. 

Subway noise? What subway noise?

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