Who are we?

Friends of Stryker Park is a local Upper West Side grassroots organization. We’re your neighbors. There are currently seven of us on the team and we all live in the neighborhood. Jim Henderson, one of our Co-Founders, has lived on the Upper West Side for more than 25 years; our other Co-Founder, Bob Leonard, has lived here for six years. Three of our team members are architects! We are all unpaid volunteers that want to make a great neighborhood even a better place to live. How ’bout that?

What's the vision for the block?

We’re interested in creating more green space and a community amenity along the north side of W. 97th St. between Columbus and Amsterdam Avenues. The sidewalk is unusually wide, about 50 feet, and a full city block long. It’s mostly concrete, poorly maintained and pretty bleak. There are seven active driveways, all unmarked and potentially dangerous. There’s out-of-control pigeon feeding on the corner by Amsterdam Ave. We’re also looking at the area just to the west of P.S. 163. It’s used by the Parks Dept. for vehicle and equipment storage. It’s a rather poor use of precious public space. We’d like to change this.

Are there specific plans for the site?
In a word – no. While we’ve identified a number of issues that face this block, we have NOT developed or proposed any specific solutions at the moment. We are in the process of reaching out to various stakeholders in the community – local residents, community organizations, area retailers, elected officials and members of CB 7. We have worked with the DOT on temporary demonstration events and have applied to the DOT “Plaza Program.”
What is the "Plaza Program?"

The DOT works with selected not-for-profit organizations to create neighborhood plazas to transform underused streets and sidewalks into vibrant, social public spaces. Over 60 plazas have been created so far all over New York. Eligible not-for-profit organizations can propose new plaza sites for their neighborhoods through a competitive application process. Friends of Stryker Park has applied to the Plaza Program. If we are selected, the DOT will fund the design and construction of the plaza. Working with the DOT, we’ll run a community workshop. This workshop will be open to the public and designed to generate ideas and suggestions. Then, a professional team of designers will use the conceptual design to create formal plans. More details are here.

How does the proposed JHL project factor in?
The JHL project, if it ever moves forward, will effect a limited portion of the block. The construction site will occupy, at most, 150 liner feet (out of a total of 800 feet) which leaves 650 feet to us to work with. P.S. 163 will remain open, the farmers’ market will continue to operate (shifting to the Amsterdam corner) and pedestrians will still be using the sidewalk for the duration of the project.
What about foot traffic?

For the record, the vast majority of New York side street sidewalks are 8-10 ft. wide. At 50 ft. wide, this block is an anomaly. But, it’s also and amazing opportunity for our neighborhood!

All construction projects in New York City require a protected construction shed. We took a look at the construction documents submitted by the JHL. The DOT conducted a study of foot traffic on the block and approved a sidewalk shed which would accommodate foot traffic on the block during the construction of the building. Take a guess on the width – 10 ft.

What kind of community suport has been generated?
Support from the community has been overwhelming in favor. Over the past two years, the team has reached out to the public, community groups, members of CB 7, electeds and area retailers. Working with the DOT, we have run pilot “One Day Plaza” events, designed to demonstrate what a permanent plaza might look like. To date, we have over 600 signed petitions, a number of elected officials had expressed support for our vision and have received official letters of support from over a dozen neighborhood retailers including Whole Foods, Dog Days of New York, The Plant Shed and others. We ran a survey at recent event – 93% of area residents express support of a pedestrian plaza on 97th St.