AND WHAT OF THE PUBLIC SPACES IN BED-STUY?

October 11, 2012
This article was originally published on October 10, 2012 in the Neighborhood Profiles section of Bed-Stuy Patch.

According to Kenneth Mbonu, director of economic development for Bridge Street Development Corporation, Malcolm X Boulevard should have the highest foot traffic in all of Bed-Stuy.

The reason the boulevard should have the highest foot traffic of anywhere else in the neighborhood is because the Utica subway stop off of the A/C train at Fulton Plaza-- the mouth of Malcolm X Boulevard-- is the second busiest in all of Brooklyn.

But foot traffic along Malcolm X Boulevard is not heavy nor is it buzzing. In fact, in between the 3- to 5- minute intervals during which the buses and subways inhale and exhale passengers, Fulton Plaza at the intersection at Malcolm X and Fulton Street appears desolate, run-down and... sort of creepy.

"People just come into the subway, leave out and leave the street as soon as possible," said Mbonu. "Because it's not inviting. It just looks so desolate and drab, you just want to get on your bus.

"And because there's nothing attractive or exciting to hold you there for any length of time, it has an impact on the commercial viability of the boulevard as a whole."

Mbonu feels that Fulton Plaza should be revamped with art installations; it should be a place where people, families meet; a destination for concerts and festivals, farmer's markets and other lively activities.

"It is an ideal location to create some sort of revitalization to make it a commercial destination," said Mbonu. "But nothing will happen with Malcolm X until that Plaza is addressed."

That is why on Thursday, October 11, Mbonu, along with Bridge Street Development Corporation, is holding a public forum to address the design and buildout of the public spaces such as Malcolm X Boulevard in Bedford-Stuyvesant.

The forum is a part of the "Mapping the Road Ahead" series for local businesses and residents, and it will deal with not only the future of Fulton Plaza, but public spaces in general, including subway entrances, bus stops, private parks, signage, lighting and the look and feel of Bedford-Stuyvesant as a whole.

The public form will be held at Fashion Rock Hall, located at 372 Tompkins Avenue (at Putnam Ave), from 6:30 p.m. - 8:30 p.m., with a wine and hors d'eoeuvres reception to follow at The Gallery Next Door, located 370 Tompkins Ave.

Guest speakers at the event include Architect Sylvester Yavana, president of SRY Design Associates; Architect and Urban Planner Meg Walker, vice president and director of design for Project for Public Spaces who will address the importance of fostering economic and social equity; and a group of graduate students of city planning from Pratt University who have been studying Fulton Plaza. They will share their findings on what it takes to make the corridor a viable part of Bed-Stuy's growth.

"It's important that as these changes begin to happen, that the community plays a role in how that works, going forward" said Mbonu.

"We have strong block associations, strong clergy, strong organizations that have stood the test of time. When Bed-Stuy was down, they stayed on. It's time to come together, sit down and outline how we would like these open spaces and streets to look.

"Because at the end of the day, Bed-Stuy should reflect its history, its people and their dedication to maintaining the assets of this environment. Change is coming, and we need to be able to have our footprint planted in the sands of time."
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