Last night, Lower East Side residents inched just a little bit closer to fulfilling the dream of reclaiming Luther Gulick Park, one of the neighborhood’s shabbiest public spaces. In a two-hour workshop at the Abrons Arts Center, neighborhood activists came together for a final visioning session before Parks Department designers get to work on preliminary drawings.
The park, which sits alongside the Williamsburg Bridge between Willett and Columbia streets has seen better days. But in the past two years, the Friends of Gulick Park have made a lot of progress — planting new trees and flowers, sponsoring community events and raising $1.5 million to fund the rehabilitation project.
During the workshop, residents broke into five groups, each focusing on different issues (building materials, park layout, the role of the park in the community, etc). They talked about the need for more greenery, less imposing fencing and spaces for a variety of different activities for diverse age groups. Some people suggested it would make sense to shrink the size of the basketball courts that run through the middle of the park.
At the end of the evening, Parks Department officials explained what happens next. First, the Friends of Gulick Park will prepare a report summarizing feedback received last night, as well as from a design session help last spring. Then, sometime in the next couple of months, Community Board 3 will hold a public hearing, a necessary step before the city can begin design work. Once preliminary plans are ready (in six months or so), there will be a second community board hearing and a review by the city’s Public Design Commission. In the best case scenario, construction would begin by the middle of next summer.
Meantime. the Friends of Gulick Park will be raising more money for the project. The Parks Department has estimated total costs could be close to $6 million. Funding has already been received from City Councilmember Margaret Chin, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer and State Senator Daniel Squadron.
If you’d like more information about the Friends of Gulick Park, visit their web site.