Pike Street Pedestrian Malls: Still in Limbo

Here’s a photo we shot last October, as Parks Department crews began to transform the pedestrian malls on Pike Street, near the East River. How much progress has been made in the past five months?

Followup: Funding for Allen/Pike Pedestrian Plazas

A particularly bleak stretch of Pike Street, near Madison Street.

Last week, we reported on Mall-terations, a temporary art installation to beautify the crumbling Allen/Pike Street pedestrian walkways and focus attention on the need for improvements.  The project was spearheaded by Hester Street Collaborative, a non-profit organization which helped lead a neighborhood visioning process to rehabilitate 13 center islands along this neglected street. In the past few months there has been some progress. But because there’s not enough money to get the whole job done, it’s been slow going.  This afternoon, we have an update from the Parks Department.

Community Day in Luther Gulick Park This Sunday

We’ve been following the campaign by a newly formed community group to give one of Manhattan’s most blighted public spaces, Luther Gulick Park, a face lift. Sunday afternoon, they’re hoping to draw a broad cross-section of the neighborhood to the park (Delancey and Willett Streets) for a “Community Day“. There will be activities for the kids, entertainment and tree maintenance demonstrations. One of the organizers, Dave Russo, says the underlying message is this: it’s time to reclaim the park after decades of neglect.

Diseased trees were cut down 10 years ago. Benches and tables were removed due to complaints from residents about late-night noise. Weeds are now protruding from the cobblestone. During a meeting back in June, about 75 residents tossed around design ideas. A few weeks later, Councilmember Alan Gerson contributed $400-thousand of the $2 million it will take to complete the project.

Grand Street resident Dave Bolotsky is the driving force behind the group – Friends of Gulick Park. Earlier this summer, he told me the project isn’t just about sprucing up a dreary urban space. After years of witnessing contentious battles in the neighborhood over countless issues, he was convinced of the need to help galvanize the community. He believes the park project is something everyone can get behind.

The group is now 120 members strong. It includes co-op residents but also people who live in other areas, including the Baruch, Wald and Riis housing projects. The organization wants to be as inclusive and diverse as possible. Sunday’s event is a step in that direction. Dave Russo says there will be handball and basketball tournaments, face painting, oragami, gardening demos, free bike checkups and live music. Numerous elected officials have been invited to attend.

A few weeks ago, we asked Councilmember Gerson about funding for the park. He vowed to push the project through, saying it is important to end “years of neglect.”  The Parks Department signaled to the community that they needed at least $1 million before design work could begin. But Gerson said city officials told him they could get started right away.

If you would like to join the Friends of Gulick Park, you can be part of their Google Group.

Here are the details of Sunday’s community day:

Sunday, September 13th

1-4pm

Luther Gulick Park (on Delancey Street, at Willett Street)

Progress Report: Luther Gulick Park

As we mentioned a couple of days ago, City Councilman Alan Gerson has agreed to help fund the facelift of Luther Gulick Park. Earlier this month, LES resident Dave Bolotsky arranged a meeting with members of the community and a Department of Parks representative to discuss ideas for refurbishing Luther Gulick. The park, located at Delancey and Willett Streets. has suffered from years of neglect: tables and benches were removed in the 80’s to discourage raucus crowds from congregating near the Hillamn Co-op – diseased trees had to be cut down a decade ago.

At Tuesday night’s Community Board 3 meeting, Patricia Olan announced that her boss, Councilman Gerson, had found some money for Luther Gulick’s restoration. Yesterday, Bolotsky told The Lo-Down he’s organizing a second community meeting, probably to be held late next month, to solicit more feedback. He’s also working with the city to line up additional funding. Parks official Bob Redmond said at the June 4th gathering that the project would probably cost about $2 million.

We’ll have more details about the time and location of the meeting as soon as it is scheduled.