Pedestrian plazas are popping up across the city and transportation officials what the plazas in every community board district. NY1's Grace Rauh filed the following report.
On a sunny day, there may be nothing better than to rest in one of the city's many pedestrian plazas, but not everyone is thrilled by the addition of these new open spaces.
At a City Council hearing in Downtown Manhattan Wednesday, members grilled officials from the city's Transportation Department about traffic, safety statistics and exactly who decides when and where one of these plazas goes.
"Why can't we just get back to basics, and worry more about paving the streets than we are about installing bike lanes and putting in pedestrian plazas where communities don't want them," said Queens Councilman Eric Ulrich.
"Before you put a pedestrian plaza in every neighborhood, you have to assess where you are shifting traffic to. What are you doing with parking for mom and pop stores?" said Bronx Councilman James Vacca.
Transportation officials said they are not forcing pedestrian plazas on neighborhoods that do not want them.
"Demand outweighs supply at this point, just in terms of our ability to pay for and implement these public spaces," said Transportation Department official Andy Wiley-Schwartz.
DOT officials would eventually like to see a plaza in every community board district in the city.
"It is certainly our intention to create a pedestrian plaza in all 59 districts. However, this is a community-driven, application-driven process, which we think is the best way to create public space," said Wiley-Schwartz.
Just a few years ago, the plazas were a new addition to the streets, an urban experiment with an uncertain future.
Today, though, these plazas seem here to stay. The city has built 17 in all, three more are currently under construction and another 13 are being designed.
"We have so many pedestrians and so much need to be able to sit and enjoy the weather and to read," said Manhattan Councilwoman Gale Brewer.
Brewer said if her colleagues do not want a pedestrian plaza in their district, she would be happy to take one, or more, off their hands.