Council Approves Peekskill Walks Proposal to Create Public Space on Esther Street

Street will be closed to traffic and opened up to people this summer and fall in downtown Peekskill

Peekskill Walks’ proposal to create a new public space in downtown Peekskill is moving forward after last night’s Council vote to close Esther Street to traffic through October.

Under the plan, barriers will be placed along the South Division and Brown Street ends of Esther Street. Once the street is closed, the adjacent businesses including Peekskill Coffee House and BeanRunner Cafe will be able to expand their outdoor seating while still leaving ample space for pedestrians to pass by or relax in the new public area while following social distancing guidelines.

Esther Street

Peekskill Walks will now work with the city and community to build out the public space with benches, landscaping and other basic amenities for the public to enjoy.

“We are thrilled this idea is moving forward and are excited to create a fun, welcoming space for the entire community to enjoy. A huge thanks to the Mayor and Council, City Manager Stewart, all of the Peekskill Walks members who volunteered their time and energy, and to the many residents who voiced their support for our proposal. We need more room for people in our downtown, and Esther Street has the chance to be an awesome little park in the middle of Peekskill,” said Conor Greene, Peekskill Walks co-founder.

Peekskill Walks initially proposed this idea this spring as a way to create more space to allow people to visit downtown while continuing to social distance, and to help nearby businesses adapt to the new COVID health regulations.  Local architect Joseph Thompson and traffic engineer Frank Filiciotto provided Peekskill Walks with pro bono professional assistance for this project, which has been done on a volunteer basis. Members of the community group worked with City Manager Andrew Stewart and business owners over the past weeks to revise the site plan, resolve details, and get the necessary approvals, leading to last night’s unanimous City Council vote to temporarily close the street to traffic.

More than 70 residents wrote letters of support urging the city to support this idea, along with community organizations including the Business Improvement District, the Hudson Valley Gateway Chamber of Commerce, Peekskill Arts Alliance, Conservation Advisory Committee, Garden Club, and business owners and artists.

“The creation of a park on Esther Street will help build a greater sense of community for Peekskill’s residents and visitors. We sorely need more places to sit and rest or to gather with friends downtown, and this new park will help make our city more welcoming for everyone,” said Peekskill Walks member Cathy Martone.

Once the city’s Department of Public Works closes the street with traffic barriers, Peekskill Walks will work with the city and business community on fundraisers, events and donations to bring tables, landscaping, lights, art, bike racks and other public amenities to the space. A new loading zone and parking spaces will be created on Brown Street and the new design will improve safety for pedestrians with the elimination of two intersections.

The concept will be reviewed this winter to determine whether Esther Street should be turned into a permanent park. If you would like to volunteer or make a donation toward the creation of the new public space, email peekskillwalks@gmail.com. Residents can also sign up for our email list to stay updated on this and other projects.

 

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