Midwood residents: We don’t need a nightmare on Elm Avenue

The Department of Transportation wants to convert this patch of concrete at Avenue M, Elm Street, and E. 15th Street into a gravel pedestrian plaza with metal tables and chairs — but not all Midwood residents are cheering the plan.
Photo by Elizabeth Graham

Midwood residents are shooting down a city plan to convert a small neighborhood street into a pedestrian plaza, even though one civic group claims that replacing cars with gravel paths, tables, and chairs would be a boon to the area.

“We need room for cars, we already have too many traffic problems,” said Sydney Norensberg who lives near Elm Avenue near Avenue M — the spot where the city wants to install their pedestrian plaza. “If people want to walk, they should go to the park.”

Representatives from the Midwood Development Corporation said the Department of Transportation approached them with the idea of blocking off Elm Avenue to traffic at E. 15th Street and turning the street and a small, oval-shaped pedestrian island near the Avenue M Q train station into a tranquil gravel court with metal chairs and tables — and they jumped at the chance.

“We want to make an inviting public urban space,” said Corporation Director Linda Goodman, who added that the plaza would be a temporary trial. “If it doesn’t work, it will go away.”

Yet some neighbors fretted that the people-friendly plaza would become a magnet for drunkards and require supervision.

“We’re worried about people congregating and we don’t want it to turn into a hangout spot,” said one resident, who would only identify himself as Ness. “If they plan on building it, security will be needed there.”

The Midwood Development Corporation said it would supply its own maintenance workers to offset city costs, which could run upwards of $10,000 a year.

Community Board 14 will review the city’s proposal on March 21 ahead of its April 4 public hearing.

Reach reporter Eli Rosenberg at erosenberg@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-2531. And follow him at twitter.com/emrosenberg.

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