Gloria Contreras has lived in Jackson Heights for nearly two decades.

During the height of the pandemic, Contreras said she used the city's open streets program along 34th Avenue.

But as life has started to return back to normal, she said closing the avenue down to traffic 12 hours a day, seven days a week has become a nuisance.

"You have to drive along 34th Avenue to get to this block, and you are not able to because the road is closed," she said.

What You Need To Know

  • The City Council gave its approval to make the Open Streets program a permanent fixture Thursday

  • The group 34th Avenue Open Streets compromise is not happy about the new legislation. They have concerns about maintenance and policing of the program

  • They are asking for the Open Streets Program reduce its hours and days of operation along 34th Avenue in Jackson Heights

Contreras is a member of a group called 34th Avenue Open Streets Compromise.

She said it felt like a kick to the gut when they found out city council voted to make the city’s “Open Streets” program permanent.

"Really come down and talk to us so that there is some sort of compromise on these open streets," she said. "Maybe lessen the hours. Maybe do it on the weekends."

The group has concerns about unlicensed vendors setting up along the avenue as well emergency and essential vehicles maneuvering through barricades.

Paola Peguero is another member of the group.

"We trusted that this was going to be a temporary measure," Peguero said. "There are still too many people that don't know that it is a permanent thing, and they are not aware also of all the plans and changes that want to be done to the open streets."

Nuala O'Doherty-Naranjo is one of the co-founders of the 34th Avenue Open Streets Coalition. Every night at 8, her and her son ride their bikes and help remove the barricades.

"It really has transformed this community," she said.

The coalition has organized daily programming on the pedestrian promenade.

O'Doherty-Naranjo said she and the 150 other volunteers are thrilled Open Streets are here to stay.

"After such a tragedy like COVID-19 that really hit this community hard, we are actually a better stronger community because of 34th Avenue," she said.

Currently there are about 60 miles of streets have been designated for the program, including the 26 blocks along 34th Avenue.

Mayor Bill de Blasio has included $4 million in new funding for the program.