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The Lower Manhattan Development Corporation announced today the approval of over $400,000 for renovations to Columbus Park in Chinatown. The park is a heavily used neighborhood space located between Baxter, Bayard, Mulberry and Worth Streets. The funding is part of a Community Development Block Grant provided to the LMDC from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
The renovation project will include the rehabilitation of the grand pavilion on the park’s northern edge, originally constructed in 1897. The entire building has been in a state of disrepair and closed to the public for almost five years due to its decaying infrastructure. The enclosed lower floor of the pavilion will be reconfigured as a public meeting room and the upper terrace will be reopened as additional open space for community activities.
Governor George E. Pataki said, “Columbus Park is the gateway to the Chinatown community. The rehabilitation of this historic pavilion is another step forward in revitalizing Lower Manhattan and promoting the importance of New York City’s diverse heritage.”
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said, "Chinatown was hit particularly hard by the events of September 11th but on any given day, you can see the resiliency of this community's spirit when you visit Columbus Park. Our hope is that the project to renovate the park, particularly the rehabilitation of the Grand Pavilion at the north end, will restore the heart of one of New York City's richest cultural neighborhoods, and will create more than just a place to meet but also a welcoming space for summer concerts and dances, and other community events that will serve the community for years to come."
John C. Whitehead, Chairman of the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, said: “Parks are one of New York’s greatest assets, and Columbus Park is central to Chinatown’s social and cultural activities. This funding will help restore an important public resource for the community.”
Senator Charles E. Schumer said, “In order to see the rebirth of downtown, we need to safeguard all institutions - especially those in often-overlooked areas such as arts and culture. That is why we fought to include funding for non profits and cultural institutions in New York's $21 billion. Columbus Park plays a vital role in the Chinatown community. This area needs help since 9/11 and rebuilding the pavilion will go far to revitalizing the park. All areas hurt by these attacks, famous and not, need our help, and this is a great first step.”
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said, “I have fought to include Chinatown in plans for the reconstruction and renewal of Lower Manhattan to assure that the neighborhood will continue its recovery from the devastating effects of the World Trade Center attack. Aside from the welcome news that Columbus Park will receive a much needed renovation, today's announcement by LMDC is a positive sign that Chinatown will not be forgotten as the rebuilding effort moves forward."
LMDC President Louis R. Tomson said, “Columbus Park is in the heart of Chinatown, located just a block away from its retail and restaurant district on Mott Street. Repairing this landmark central meeting place will help fortify Chinatown businesses which were hit hard by the September 11th attacks, while also serving the growing residential population of the area.”
Parks and Recreation Commissioner Adrian Benepe said, “We are pleased that the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation is providing needed funds to renovate the historic pavilion in Chinatown's Columbus Park. This park is very important to the communities living in Lower Manhattan and served as a gathering place in the aftermath of the September 11th attacks. This funding, which provides a match for a $1 million grant from the National Park Service, will create community and recreational space in the historic grand pavilion and help to revive downtown New York."
Columbus Park is surrounded by several low-rise tenements, a high-rise apartment complex and the large institutional buildings of the City’s Civic Center. The park is the main outdoor recreation space for Chinatown residents, particularly senior citizens and children.
The $400,000 funding will be provided to New York City Parks and Recreation to be used in conjunction with a $1 million grant awarded to Parks and Renovation by the National Park Service’s Urban Park and Recreation Recovery Program (UPARR) on June 27, 2002.