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