The Forest Hills Gardens Corporation board of directors informed residents on April 6 that the entire square east of Continental Avenue will be closed to all vehicular traffic due to the renovation project.
Work will involve more than just the restoration and leveling of the road surface. All public utilities will be upgraded as the bricks are removed and the roadway is opened.
The renovation is slated to begin mid-April and will continue throughout the rest of the year. The square will be closed off to all vehicular traffic, except for emergency vehicles, throughout the project.
“This project has been on the drawing board for many years and we are excited to embark on this unprecedented event for our community,” a statement from the board read. “We understand that this will be an inconvenience, but after much discussion it was decided there was no other way to safely proceed with this project if the square was not closed to the public.”
The sidewalks around the square, however, will remain open to accommodate pedestrians who live in the area and those who need to access the Long Island Railroad.
The red-brick streets of Station Square and it’s picturesque medieval-style buildings were designed by architects Grosvenor Atterbury and Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr. in 1912.
It features a double staircase leading to an elevated embankment and the Long Island Railroad. The square also connects the private community to the commercial corridor of Austin Street.
Roland Meier, president of the West Side Tennis Club Foundation, welcomed the renovation.
“I think this is fabulous that this is finally happening, it will further improve the image of Forest Hills, which is awesome,” Meier said. “Of course, if the construction is going to be a year some people will be affected, but I think they’ll cope with it.”
On a daily basis, residents are picked up and dropped off in the square, but Meier believes they will be able to make new arrangements. And when concert season comes to Forest Hills Stadium, he has faith in the 112th Precinct.
“Usually the police have a very strong presence here on concert days anyway, and they will just have to park their equipment in other areas. I don’t think it’s going to be a huge disruption,” he added. “As far as Forest Hills Stadium goes, I’m sure they will find a solution.”
The Department of Transportation, which is looking into ways to alleviate traffic on Austin Street believes the traffic caused by the Station Square renovation will help the agency in its six-month study.
“The construction on Station Square underscores the need to address the double parking and truck loading in the middle of the travel lane on Austin Street even more,” said Queens DOT deputy commissioner Al Silvestri at last week’s Community Board 6 meeting. “The double-parked trucks on the one travel lane on Austin Street create a dangerous roadway, and we want to fix that.”