Q&A: Seward Park Conservancy Holds Saturday Event, Plants Seeds For Future

Photo by the Seward Park Conservancy.

Photo by the Seward Park Conservancy.

Last fall, we told you about the creation of the Seward Park Conservancy, a group advocating for improvements in one of the most active public spaces on the Lower East Side. This coming Saturday, they’ll be hosting their first big public event. We asked Tobi Elkin, a founding member, a few questions about the community cleanup day and about their fledgling organization. 

TLD: What’s going to be happening on Saturday for “It’s My Park Day?” 

It’s My Park Day is a city-wide celebration of public parks in all five boroughs and is put on in conjunction with Partnerships for Parks, which supplies plants and other assistance. In Seward Park, we’re going to be planting, weeding, raking, mulching, edging around the park beds, pulling some plants that are taking over in the garden, and doing overall spring clean-up. We’re also hosting a variety of fun activities for kids like face-painting, music, sing-a-longs and dance. We know that kids also like to plant so they’re welcome to help with that.

TLD:This is your first large scale community event. What are you hoping to accomplish? 

Yes, this is our first large-scale event as Seward Park Conservancy. Prior to the formation of the Conservancy, volunteers hosted an “It’s My Park Day” a few years ago. We’re trying to raise awareness for the Conservancy as a non-profit entity dedicated to the beautification and improvement of Seward Park for all the people who use it. We’d like to cultivate a spirit of community involvement in the park and its maintenance and encourage volunteerism on a regular basis. The park is a genuine asset to the neighborhood, is well-used and has a rich history. The Conservancy is also looking to raise money to restore the historic Schiff Fountain, the Park House, a beautiful mosaic and to fund other areas in the park that need attention. We’d eventually like to see regular programming for kids and all ages. The Conservancy would also like to increase membership and involvement.

TLD: How are things going in the park? You’ve been working on a variety of maintenance issues with the Parks Dept. What’s the latest?

Yes, we’ve been working closely with the Parks Dept. for the last several months and our parks manager, Terese Flores, has made a huge difference in tidying, maintaining and improving the park’s beds and other areas. The Conservancy is hopeful that Terese will be able to attend some Conservancy meetings to offer valuable input on our plans to make the park a more dynamic and exciting public amenity. She’s been active in inviting volunteer groups to participate in park maintenance projects. We’d like to align volunteers with the Conservancy’s volunteers so that our group can aid parks employees in a supervisory capacity. One of the parks employees on Terese’s team, Indiared Love, has been especially helpful in keeping the park free of trash. There’s been a huge improvement over the last few months. Keeping the entire park trash-free, daily, is one of the Conservancy’s goals and Indiared is helping us realize it.

TLD: For people who don’t know about the Conservancy, can you explain its mission?

Thanks for asking. We’re dedicated to maintaining a beautiful, bright and clean public park that’s safe and fun for all who use it. We are committed to restoring historic features, updating the infrastructure and improving public access to the park which is located at Canal and Essex Streets. Currently access is at the gate on East Broadway. There is so much potential at Seward Park and we want to make it enjoyable, clean, serene and fun for all who spend time there.

TLD: How can people become involved with your organization?

On most Saturdays, our core group gathers in the Seward Park garden from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. to work on various projects. Often we’re there on Sundays too. Anyone who wants to join us can write to sewardparkvolunteers@gmail.com to let us know they want to volunteer and we’ll put them on our email list so they can receive alerts as to when we’re working. They can also stop by. Another good way to get involved is to follow us on Facebook at “Seward Park Conservancy”, Twitter and Instagram “SewardParkCons”. We have an exciting new website that will be launching soon and until then, people can go to: sewardparkconservancy.org and read about the park and join for as little as $25. We encourage everyone in the neighborhood to stop by on Saturday May 16 from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. when we’ll be hosting It’s My Park Day, rain or shine.

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