Citi Bike Station at Canal and Rutgers Street Will Be Temporarily Removed Today

starus square may 2017

Here’s a service alert from Citi Bike. The station at Canal and Rutgers Street will be temporarily removed today.

As previously reported, the station is being taken off line in preparation for the resurfacing of Straus Square. The city’s Department of Transportation is turning the area into a pedestrian plaza. You can read more about that here.

The station, according o Citi Bike, will be out of service for about a month. It will either be re-installed in the same location of at another nearby location.

Straus Square Renovations Detailed; Plans For Recycle-a-Bicycle Outpost Announced

straus square may 2017

Local residents will start to see changes in Straus Square during the next several weeks, as the neglected area at East Broadway, Rutgers Street and Canal Street begins to look more like a full-fledged pedestrian plaza. The changes were outlined last night at a meeting of Community Board 3’s Parks Committee.

As previously reported, the community board has already approved the closure of a one block section of Canal Street alongside Seward Park. Last night’s presentation before the parks panel dealt with design and programming aspects of the plan. Seward Park is about to undergo a $6.4 million renovation as part of the Parks Without Borders Program. The idea behind the Straus Square changes is to make the plaza feel like it’s an extension of the park.

Tim Laughlin, president of the Lower East Side Partnership, walked community board members through the plan. His organization is teaming up with the Parks Department to operate the plaza. Temporary seating will be installed in the next few weeks. Benches will be created using jersey barricades (see the rendering below). A more permanent and elaborate plaza setup will be in-the-works in the spring of 2018 (funding needs to be locked down for that).

Screen Shot 2017-06-16 at 7.46.43 AM

Laughlin said the Citi Bike station currently located alongside Straus Square will be temporarily removed (probably at the end of this month). It hasn’t been decided for certain where it will be relocated. One possibility is the wide sidewalk on Rutgers Street adjacent to Wu’s Wonton King, a Chinese restaurant. In response to concern from committee members, Laughlin offered assurances that the heavily used station would not be eliminated. It will likely be out of commission for 2-4 weeks.

Another feature of the plaza, to be implemented next year, will be a bike repair operation from Recycle-a-Bicycle and Bike New York. It will be established in a shipping container set up in the plaza. Recycle-a-Bicycle gave of a storefront on Avenue C this past spring after 17 years on the LES, so the operation will mean a return to the neighborhood for the not-for-profit organization.

The repair station will be a regular presence in Straus Square during warm weather months. In addition to bike repair, classes for children and adults and other free programs will be offered. Recycle-a-Bicycle and Bike New York already provide similar services in seven city parks. Staff members, said Laughlin, will be “eyes on the street,” and be able to assist in breaking down plaza elements like bistro chairs and tables at the end of each day.

Screen Shot 2017-06-16 at 7.46.59 AM

In a previous meeting, members of the Seward Park Conservancy raised questions about traffic congestion in the area. City officials conducted a survey that indicated the stretch of Canal slated for closure is used by a lot more pedestrians than cars. In the new configuration, vehicles will continue on East Broadway, rather than having the option of veering off onto Canal. They’ll turn onto Rutgers/Essex Street. In response to the concerns, the Department of Transportation is conducting a traffic study to evaluate the impact of the proposed changes.

Last night, Carol Anastasio, one of the leaders of Seward Park Conservancy, reiterated the concerns about traffic. But she was generally optimistic about the plan. “We believe something good has come from this design even though there’s not much money (to work with right now).” The conservancy does not want to see granite blocks used in the plaza (they’re a prominent feature of some other plazas in the neighborhood).

The parks committee approved a resolution in support of the changes. The area will be resurfaced at the end of this month with installation of the interim seating taking place in July.

You can see the full presentation below.

 

Straus Square Redesign by The Lo-Down on Scribd

Community Board 3 Panel Signs Off on Closure of Canal Street Alongside Straus Square

starus square may 2017

Straus Square.

City planners and the Lower East Side Partnership won preliminary support last night from Community Board 3’s Transportation Committee to close a section of Canal Street alongside Seward Park. It’s part of a larger plan to create a more inviting and functional public plaza at Straus Square.

Seward Park is about to undergo a major face lift through the city’s Parks Without Borders program. The Straus Square initiative is meant to complement that renovation, making the area feel like it’s part of the park. The idea is to close off Canal Street between Essex Street and East Broadway, extending the plaza to the edge of Seward Park. A bike share station and taxi relief stand would be relocated.

A survey by the Department of Transportation found that this section of Canal Street, adjacent to the F Train stairwell, is used by many more pedestrians than cars. The city plans to direct all traffic along East Broadway, allowing vehicles to turn right onto Essex Street.

straus square presentation 1

Slide from community board presentation. Straus Square is depicted in the bottom left portion of this diagram.

straus square presentation 2

straus square presentation 3

straus square presentation 4

City officials are planning to move the taxi relief stand to an area just beyond Canal Street, where it meets East Broadway. The change would mean losing two metered parking spaces.  The Straus Square project is expected to be completed by this summer. According to the presentation, the area would be maintained by the NYC Parks Department and “program partners,” meaning the LES Partnership. Next month, CB3’s Parks Committee will be asked to weigh in on the design for the public plaza. Last night’s discussion was centered solely on transportation-related issues.

Conversations are already underway with neighborhood groups, including the Seward Park Conservancy. Representing the organization last night, Linda Jones said the conservancy is “pleased to be collaborating” on the project. She also voiced several concerns.

First off, she said, the group wants to make sure that closing off this stretch of Canal Street won’t cause more traffic congestion on East Broadway. Jones noted that there’s already heavy bus (city and private) traffic in the vicinity, and she urged transportation planners to thoroughly study the potential impacts of the street changes. Second, she said there’s concern about moving the taxi relief stand to the east, near the Seward Park Garden, where it would be a more conspicuous presence. The conservancy suggested a more appropriate spot would be on Rutgers Street, below East Broadway. Finally, Jones said the conservancy worries that the plaza will not be properly maintained. The organization wants assurances that staff and funding will be dedicated for this purpose.

In its draft resolution, the transportation committee decided against asking the city to move the taxi relief stand away from the park. It did, however, call on designers to use materials that would discourage skateboarders from taking over the area. One board member, Yaron Altman, noted that the Delancey Street Plaza has been commandeered by skateboarders.

Following the meeting, LES Partnership President Tim Laughlin said his organization is committed to working with community groups on both the design and maintenance plan for the plaza. The Partnership oversees the nearby Division Street Plaza (at Ludlow Street) and the Delancey Street Plaza. Responding to complaints about the condition of these areas, Laughlin said plans are in place to upgrade both plazas. The Division Street triangle was initially renovated as part of a demonstration project, he said, and it will be spruced up along with Straus Square. Improvements on Delancey Street will take place when construction on Essex Crossing site 2 winds down next year. That project will coincide with the city’s installation of protected bike lanes on Delancey. Laughlin said the Partnership is working on securing funding for maintenance of the plazas.

On a related note, the Parks Department is ready to unveil plans for the larger Seward Park project. That will happen at tomorrow night’s meeting of the Parks Committee. The meeting takes place at 6:30 p.m. at the BRC Senior Center, 30 Delancey St.

Good Morning!

The Lower East Side War Memorial, dedicated in 1953. Photo: thelodownny.com.

It’s a rainy, cloudy start to our Memorial Day, but the forecast calls for clearing skies today and a high of 88. Thunderstorms likely after 4 p.m. Enjoy the holiday!