Controversy over the expansion of the Open Streets plan to offer open streets in NYC during the Halloween celebration

The expansion of the Open Streets plan in New York City during the Halloween celebrations will make nearly 100 streets car-free for the holiday. However, such a decision has had detractors.

From 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. on October 31, dozens of streets will be free of vehicles as part of the Trick-or-Streets programas announced by authorities Monday, in the effort to designate more pedestrian zones for Halloween-related activities in the five boroughs.

“Trick-or-Streets will be an amazing night of safe and healthy fun and community togetherness for families across the county”according to Queens Borough President Donovan Richards.

The announcement was made by New York City Department of Transportation Commissioner Ydanis Rodríguez along with other city leaders in Queens, where the annual Jackson Heights Halloween Parade is expected to pass down 37th Avenue beginning at 5:00 p.m.

“As someone who grew up in apartment spaces with no park, this has been a godsend for so many members of our community, myself, my neighbors and I can’t wait for Monday after the parade to come here and enjoy with the children,” said Assemblywoman Catalina Cruz.

However, the rejection of the measure was also felt. Monday’s announcement was overshadowed by a handful of Jackson Heights community members. who booed and shouted against the measure.

Angry neighbors included Bryan Barrett, who highlighted the difficulties he will face when streets are closed, as well as first responders and residents requiring Access-A-Ride vehicles.

“I see this as a slap in the face. Open Streets has literally caused a divide…they put rocks in the streets, it’s hard for emergency vehicles to get to sick people”Barrett noted.

Another community resident named Julia Maddox criticized the program, noting, “The thing is, we keep talking, we keep asking for commitment and they don’t want to do it and we’re tired of it.”

Despite the protests, there are still residents who are optimistic about Open Streets. Resident Robin Mitchell spoke with some of his neighbors laying out his points and with the goal of finding common ground.

“I agree that human life has been affected, but I think it has been affected in all the right ways”Mitchell noted. “I understand what people are saying about Access-A-Ride and fire trucks, we have to make sure Access-A-Ride can reach people who need it. We can make that happen.

Likewise, supporters of Open Streets stated that there was a 42% drop in traffic accidents after its implementation in 2020.

With information from Telemundo 47 New York

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