A nearly five-year-old effort to revitalize a neglected public space on the Lower East Side is receiving a big boost. State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver announced today that $2.5 million has been awarded to Luther Gulick Park for its restoration. The new funding comes from the state Department of Transportation.
Community activists formed an organization known as the Friends of Gulick Park several years ago. They have held numerous community-building activities, including tree and flower plantings, in the park, which is located alongside the Williamsburg Bridge at Willett Street. Most important, the group successfully raised $3 million from several sources, including the New York City Council and the Manhattan Borough President’s office. After several neighborhood visioning sessions, the Parks Department came up with a rehabilitation plan, a drawing of which you can see below.
Originally, the Parks Department planned to build the project in phases, since only about half of the total $6 million necessary for the revamp had been raised. The new money means the entire job can be completed at once. A news release from Silver’s office states that the grant will help “pay for the construction of pathways, sidewalks, lighting, bicycle parking, greenery and landscape amenities in the park.” Silver said:
I am thrilled that we are able to make these vital improvements to Gulick Park, a treasured part of our Lower East Side community… In a neighborhood that has long suffered from a lack of open space, Gulick Park serves an enormous need for our children and all of our residents on both sides of Delancey Street. I remember playing basketball there as a boy, back when it was called Sheriff Street Park. It makes me so proud to be able to create a vibrant new park there today.
Dave Bolotsky, founder of the Friends of Gulick Park thanked Speaker Silver “for his leadership and perseverance” in obtaining the state funding. He also thanked all of the volunteers who have given so much time to the effort during the past five years, as well as City Council member Margaret Chin, who has championed the park during several City Council budget cycles. Bolotsky also expressed his gratitude to former Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer and State Senator Daniel Squadron, who awarded grants to the park.
There’s no firm start date for the project. It will probably be at least a year before a shovel is in the ground. The Parks Department still must find around $500,000 to round out the budget, but all parties are optimistic that will happen.