Group Pushing Mayor De Blasio To Make Open Streets Policy In Jackson Heights, Queens Neighborhood Permanent
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- There is a battle brewing over more than a mile of open streets stretching through Queens. Residents who love having the car-free space are demanding the city make it permanent.
As CBS2's Dave Carlin reported Wednesday, one avenue is now car free and full of fun for many. But some are asking why the city has been so slow to make it permanent.
The rhythm is right on the roadway. Group exercise on 34th Avenue in Jackson Heights is now a regular thing.
"It's amazing for the community and having this throughout the last few months has been great," Elizabeth Shovers said.
MORE: Upper West Side Residents Say Drivers Are Ignoring Police Barricades Set Up For Open Streets
For 1.3 miles, residents can walk, run and bike and find pop-up performances, plus play various kinds of pick-up games.
"We play soccer together and I love this because we don't have to ... there's no cars here and it's more safer," Jackson Heights resident Angelina Han said.
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While open streets along 80 miles were a post-coronavirus pandemic gift from New York City, no one knows how long they will last.
Some residents residents don't like them when things get noisy, or when driving around them.
"This is affecting the traffic coming through a lot because this is a very traffic neighborhood and I don't really like it at all," resident Juan Velez said.
"A lot of traffic gets diverted between here and there and so everybody you get a cluster right here," Von Edward added.
"We only have one park and it is way down there. It's not a very large park, so we needed open space," said Jim Burke, founder of the 34th Avenue Open Streets Coalition.
MORE: Struggling Artists Hopeful City Council Will Allow Outdoor Performances In Public Spaces With Program Similar To 'Open Streets'
Burke is part of a petition drive to make the 34the Avenue open street permanent, just like Restaurant Row areas. His group has gathered more than 1,500 signatures, but he wants Mayor Bill de Blasio, who appears generally supportive, to do much more.
"Open streets, open restaurants have been a revelation and certainly points in the direction of being even more creative as we go forward," de Blasio said Tuesday.
"Unfortunately, things drag on. We would like them to be decisive. He's done great things for open street restaurants. We need him to do the same thing for the open streets here," Burke said.
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A spokesman for the city told CBS2 open streets must be evaluated in the winter to see how they hold up in snow and ice before gaining year-round approval.
"We love this. We want to make it permanent and we don't want to be in limbo anymore," Burke said.
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