Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg today announced that the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation (LMDC) has allocated $25 million for the immediate implementation of over a dozen high-impact projects to rejuvenate parks and create new green spaces throughout Lower Manhattan. The plan takes advantage of opportunities within the downtown network of streets to create new “Greenstreets” and enhanced pedestrian corridors as well as upgrade public plazas, sitting areas, playgrounds and playing fields south of Canal Street. While work will begin immediately on at least 13 sites, 8 will be substantially completed within 12 months; 4 others will be completed within 18 months; and the final project will be completed within 24 months. Revitalized parks and open spaces play a central role in the vision for a renewed Lower Manhattan, which Mayor Bloomberg presented in December. Interim LMDC President Kevin Rampe, Deputy Mayor for Economic Development & Rebuilding Daniel Doctoroff, and Parks & Recreation Commissioner Adrian Benepe attended the announcement with the Mayor at the Bosque in Battery Park.
“Great cities are defined as much by their parks and open spaces as they are by their architecture and to that end, we are pleased to announce that the City will move forward aggressively to restore parks and create new open spaces in Lower Manhattan,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “These plans are an integral part of the vision for Lower Manhattan that I outlined in December 2002, and our efforts to restore the quality of life downtown for residents, employees and visitors. The plans proposed by the Department of Parks & Recreation create a beautiful and dynamic network of parks and open spaces that will become a worldwide destination and tangible symbol of the rebirth of the downtown area. I would like to thank Governor Pataki and John Whitehead and Kevin Rampe of the LMDC for focusing on these short term enhancements that will improve the quality of life in Lower Manhattan as quickly as possible.”
“While we work hard to realize the long-term vision for Lower Manhattan’s renewal, we must also pursue initiatives that will enhance the quality of life downtown as quickly as possible,” said Governor George E. Pataki. “This is the first in a series of improvements I outlined in April that will make this neighborhood an even greater place in which to live, work and visit. A network of new and revitalized parks and open spaces will accelerate the transformation of downtown into a true mixed-used community - vibrant day and night. I want to thank the Mayor and the LMDC for aggressively pursuing initiatives that will ensure Lower Manhattan emerges from September 11th even stronger than it was before.”
“These parks will serve as a catalyst for the redevelopment of Lower Manhattan by providing an amenity for local workers, a draw for businesses and an improvement in the quality of life for downtown’s growing residential population,” said Interim LMDC President Rampe. “They will also provide a significant destination for visitors by capitalizing on downtown’s magnificent waterfront setting, unique architectural character and important historical context.
I want to thank the Governor, the Mayor and Parks Commissioner Benepe for their commitment to this project which will show tangible benefits to the community in a very short period of time.”
“Lower Manhattan is where New York City was born but it historically did not share in the growth of the parks system,” said Commissioner Benepe. “In addition, many of the area’s parks and open spaces were closed or damaged after September 11, 2001. Repairing and enhancing these open spaces, as well as creating new parks, is critical to the future of the downtown area. Our plans will infuse downtown with green space that will serve as an oasis for workers, tourists, and the growing residential community.”
Working with various city agencies and LMDC staff, the Parks Department formulated an aggressive timetable for creating parks and revitalizing existing open spaces throughout Lower Manhattan. The projects focus on reconstructing sitting areas, public plazas and playgrounds south of Canal Street. Through coordination with the Department of Transportation, the plan takes advantage of opportunities within the downtown street network to create new public spaces such as Greenstreets and enhanced pedestrian corridors. At each of these sites, the Parks Department will provide enhanced horticultural elements such as canopy and flowering trees, ornamental shrubs and planting beds, as well as new benches, lighting and decorative paving. Two of the sites, Canal Street and Battery Park, may also include decorative fountains once design plans are finalized.
The project will also restore critical “gateway” parks up to Houston Street. These regional parks contain the nearest athletic fields and wide-open green spaces that serve downtown residents and schools. At these locations, the Parks Department will rebuild and re-program existing athletic fields in order to maximize recreational opportunities. At Sara D. Roosevelt and Columbus Parks, asphalt will be replaced with the latest technology in synthetic turf, creating a vastly improved playing surface. At East River Park, four existing dirt ballfields at Houston Street will be reconstructed with either synthetic turf or natural grass.
The following parks and open space areas will be a part of this project with the possibility of other sites being added to this list at a later date:
- East River Waterfront Spaces – Coenties Slip; Old Slip; Wall Street Triangle
- Neighborhood Parks – Al Smith Playground; Brooklyn Bridge/Drumgoole Plaza; Tribeca Park; Washington Market Park
- Gateway Parks – Battery Bosque; Bowling Green; Canal, Varick & Laight Streets; Columbus Park; East River Park Ballfields; Sara D. Roosevelt Park
These projects are another step forward to realizing the Mayor’s open space vision for Lower Manhattan, and the plan builds upon the work and vision of a number of different community and civic groups. These partnering organizations include Community Boards 1 and 3, the Downtown Alliance and the Battery Conservancy. Parks & Recreation will work with an advisory group of these organizations to ensure that the realization of this open space vision best meets the needs of local residents, schools and businesses.