“This is a clear demonstration of how important the Lefferts Boulevard bridge is to those in and around our community,” said the Save Kew Gardens Coalition in a statement.
For years, many of the businesses said they have suffered from water leaks, burst pipes, disintegrated floors, roof issues, ill-fitting windows, and walls that haven’t been insulated. The bridge, which hasn’t been properly maintained in decades, is crumbling.
Local business owners learned of the MTA’s plan to repair the bridge and build housing at a meeting with MTA and LIRR representatives at Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz’s office on May 18.
In June, a group of businesses, including Thyme Natural Market, Reo Chemists and Accounting and Tax Services, joined together to stop an MTA plan to build a high-rise building in place of small businesses located on the Lefferts Boulevard Bridge.
According to coalition, which is composed of civic, social, religious and resident organizations, the MTA originally had plans to build a high-rise over the tracks in 1991. However, those plans were set aside when fierce opposition arose from residents, civic associations and elected officials.
Over the last couple of months, with community resistance including the petition, public outcry, signs in local shops and further signs made by local school children, the MTA has become more willing to work with the community in terms of repairing the bridge and allowing the businesses to stay open.
Since being built in the 1920s, the coalition said the bridge and it’s mom-and-pop stores have given character to the neighborhood and transformed into the “heart of an urban village in the big city.”
“It appears that the future of the bridge may well be decided after engineering questions are resolved, and this takes time,” according to The Save Kew Gardens Coalition’s statement. “Community pressure, concern and continued focus are vital to the fight to preserve our community and bridge.”