May 5, 2014 By Christian Murray
The Department of Transportation is likely to start converting the areas beneath the 40th and 46th Street subway stations into plazas as early as June.
These areas are currently viewed as dark and uninviting, and Sunnyside Shines aims to convert them into welcoming neighborhood entrances.
Last Wednesday, the Department of Transportation and Sunnyside Shines held a public meeting designed to solicit ideas from the public on how best to design the plazas.
The meeting, which was well attended, solicited a great deal of feedback—virtually all positive. Most asked for better lighting, wayfinder maps, movable tables & chairs, a colorful concrete surface, planters and artwork, such as murals. However, the current artwork at 40th Street was not highly regarded.
There was also a call for a designated area for food vendors on the periphery of the plazas.
David Breen, the associate project manager for the Department of Transportation, said that these ideas will be incorporated into a plan that will be presented to Community Board 2’s Transportation Committee, which will be holding a public meeting on May 27. That committee is headed by Joe Conley.
Once the Transportation Committee signs off on it, it needs to be approved by the full board on June 5.
Breen said that the 46th and 40th Street plaza areas are currently quite different, since the 46th Street area still has the roadway embedded within it. He said the DOT was prepared to put down new concrete so the 46th Street plaza would be completely level. The surface area would then be 5,500 square feet, slightly smaller than the 6,000 square feet at 40th Street.
This idea to put down the concrete was embraced by the attendees. Some wanted the concrete to be painted a single color, while others wanted a mural on it.
Breen said after the event that he seemed fairly certain the new concrete would be incorporated into the plan—given the public’s desire for it.
Sunnyside Shines will be in charge of maintaining the plazas. It will be responsible for cleaning the plazas as well as keeping tabs on the tables and chairs.