June 21, 2016 By Jackie Strawbridge
Woodside locals with thoughts on how businesses and residents would be better served in the neighborhood can attend a “community conversation” Thursday to learn about future plans and provide feedback.
Woodside on the Move will host the meeting on Thursday at 6:30 p.m. at their office (39-42 59th St.) along with the Queens Economic Development Corporation, which will present the findings of an assessment it conducted on the neighborhood’s commercial needs and environment.
According to QEDC deputy director Ricardi Calixte, the assessment looked at what types of businesses are in the area, the condition of the surrounding streets and physical environment, to what degree those businesses are supported by local organizations and elected officials, and consumer demographics and behavior.
From this assessment, QEDC will create a “district plan” that will be publicly available, to help organizations, investors or elected officials decide how to direct funding or identify possible community improvements.
The District Plan will be finalized within the week, according to Calixte.
Calixte said some of the findings from the assessment included a need for better lighting under the elevated train tracks, and the potential use of the 61st Street subway station as an anchor for stimulating economic activity; it just “needs a makeover,” Calixte said.
Although QEDC noticed that local businesses could benefit from an entity that would provide marketing support and attract outside dollars, Calixte said that he wouldn’t recommend a Business Improvement District at this time, as there isn’t a strong enough unified merchant presence. He also said the area is “right on the cusp” of having too many vacancies for a BID to work.
Thursday’s meeting will also provide an opportunity for locals to talk more generally about improvements they’d like to see in the area, from retail needs to infrastructure upgrades, Woodside on the Move Executive Director Amy Paul said.
“It’s an opportunity to hear each other out, to think together collectively,” Paul said. “Whether it’s infrastructure, or commercial, or recreational, or social services, what are those ideas.”
Thursday’s meeting is “a new beginning,” Paul said. “With new development on the horizon, this conversation invites long-time residents, seniors, immigrant families, small businesses and others to have a voice at the table for how the neighborhood is shaped.”
Paul is planning on similar community conversations continuing down the line.