Highlights from USP's Neighborhood Planning Community Forum

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Earlier this year, Union Square Partnership launched a nine-month Neighborhood Visioning + Planning initiative to shape the future of the Union Square - 14th Street district. Following two months of pop-up listening sessions throughout the district, USP kicked off the community planning process by inviting neighbors to the first sit-down community forum where they outlined neighborhood challenges and opportunities drawn from their own experiences and helped guide the planning for the future of the neighborhood. 

Find more background information on USP’s Neighborhood Visioning + Planning initiative here.

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Over 40 community members attended the first forum, which included Union Square residents, business owners, employees, university students, and even some children, all engaging in robust discussion on the neighborhood. To help focus, record, and synthesize community comments, Marvel Architects led small groups in two discussion activities to identify overall opportunities for the district, as well as discuss specific needs in key areas around the neighborhood. 

 Map of Focus Areas discussed at the Community Forum

Map of Focus Areas discussed at the Community Forum

USP’s November Community Forum is just the beginning. Stay tuned for details on our second Community Forum taking place in early 2019, where we’ll be inviting community members back to narrow in on priority focus areas and identify potential projects and interventions for the key issues and opportunities facing our district. USP will be releasing updates and details on top priorities that are bubbling to the top of the list - subscribe to our newsletter and follow us @UnionSquareNY for future Neighborhood Visioning + Planning updates. 

If you were unable to join us,  click here to view slides from the opening presentation.

Here’s what we heard

Below we’ve captured ideas and suggestions shared by community members at the small group discussions held during our recent Forum.

Union Square Park, uNION sQUARE wEST, AND uNION sQUARE eAST

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Ideas for New Projects and Programs:

  • Design elements to serve as security bollards and improve pedestrian safety 

  • Consider landscape design that incorporates paved plazas 

  • Improve street treatments for pedestrian access across Union Square South between University Place and Broadway 

  • Explore new amenities and activations for Triangle Park on Union Square East and 14th Street

  • Consider design that allows natural light from South Plaza to subway station beneath surface

  • Explore the creation of a shared street for Union Square West that maintains Belgian blocks 

  • Create more programming and activities for teens and youth 

  • Create a permanent park information kiosk

Suggestions on Improving Existing Assets: 

  • Improve Union Square Dog Run, particularly around drainage, paving, and seating 

  • Expand park seating and number of park benches

  • Add composting on non-Greenmarket days

  • Explore how to replant trees that are damaged by vehicular traffic at busy intersections and/or areas of the park

  • Improve trash storage in visible public spaces and pickup operations 

  • Maintain spaces for public expression and free speech demonstrations 


14th Street (First Avenue to SIXTH Avenue)

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Suggestions on Improving Existing Assets: 

  • Consider different siting for vendors and food carts to reduce congestion along the street at key pedestrian intersection

  • Maintain the relatively low-rise built environment of 14th Street, which creates good light and openness 

    Explore how to maintain a diverse retail environment that includes affordable services for residents and employees

Ideas for New Projects and Programs:

  • Provide additional street seating along the eastern and western stretches of 14th Street

  • Consider how to attract healthier food options along the corridor

  • Explore planting additional street trees to provide shade and enhance the streetscape aesthetics