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Seward Park a Winner of “Parks Without Borders” Competition

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Renderings by: Studio Castellano for Seward Park Conservancy.
Renderings by: Studio Castellano for Seward Park Conservancy.

Seward Park will be receiving an infusion of money for large-scale  renovations. A few minutes from now, city officials will announce that the Lower East Side public space has won a grant through the Parks Without Borders Program.

A local organization, the Seward Park Conservancy, launched a robust campaign for a piece of a $40 million pie that will be divided among eight recipients.  Here’s more from the New York Times:

Those selected were Seward Park on the Lower East Side of Manhattan; Faber Pool and Park on the north shore of Staten Island; Jackie Robinson Park in northern Manhattan; Van Cortlandt Park and Hugh Grant Circle and Virginia Park in the Bronx; Flushing Meadows-Corona Park in Queens; and Fort Greene and Prospect Parks, both in Brooklyn…

Residents say (Seward Park) is not reaching its full potential. They point to the fountain that has long been out of service, the play equipment with chipped paint and the few points of entry. The park has two gates, plus a third that is unlocked when the public library branch within the park is open. Elsewhere along the perimeter, gates are locked or a high fence stands in the way… Amy Robinson, the president of the Seward Park Conservancy, which was formed almost two years ago, has helped lead the campaign for the park to be considered for Parks Without Borders. She said the objectives of the program aligned with the ambitions of Seward Park’s boosters. Part of that is access: “As times have changed, we’ve been able to get one other gate open,” Ms. Robinson said, “and there could be six gates open.” But she also envisioned a park that was even more connected with its neighbors. “The more care that is given to the park,” Ms. Robinson said, “the more people respect the park — the more people respect the plantings and what’s in the park.” And more than that, she added, “the more people use it.”

We’ll have more details after 3 p.m., when the city officially announces the awards.  Note: the rendering posted above was prepared as part of the conservancy’s campaign; it’s not necessarily a depiction of any proposed design from the Parks Department.

UPDATE 3:32 p.m. The Parks Department says the project at Seward Park will include “opening boundaries and sightlines within and outside the park and improving connections to adjacent spaces.” The competition included online voting. A total of 659 votes were received for Seward Park, second only to Prospect Park in Brooklyn. In his remarks, Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver praised local activists for a brochure they prepared as part of their proposal (renderings were created by local architect Ron Castellano).  Here’s a look at what they put together:

UPDATE 5:12 p.m. More details from the Parks Department. While $40 million has been allocated for the eight projects, it is not yet know how much each park will receive. A spokesperson tells us community input and scoping sessions will take place first. Then city planners will determine how much is required in each community.

Excerpts from the Parks Dept. press release:

Parks Without Borders launched in November 2015 with a call for community involvement. NYC Parks asked New Yorkers to nominate the best sites. Utilizing an online survey and 37 conferences with citizens at Community Board Meetings, NYC Parks Computer Resource Centers, and public libraries, Parks received more than 6,000 nominations for 691 parks, or over 30% of our park. Drawing from this community input, NYC Parks chose eight parks based on criteria including community support, park access, and current physical conditions and context…

“Seward Park is a central part of our community that has too often been left behind — its selection as a park without borders is great news,” said State Senator Daniel Squadron. “This initiative is an exciting step in continued parks access and equity efforts, and I thank Commissioner Silver for including Seward Park. The Seward Park Conservancy, with support from Community Board 3, was instrumental in moving this proposal forward, and I thank them for their continued commitment to our community.” …

“Our neighborhood is honored and excited to have Seward Park chosen for Parks Without Borders. We look forward to working with the parks department on its vision for our park and we stand ready to be helpful in realizing it. Seward Park; created in the 19th century and flourishing in the 21st!” said Amy Robinson, President of the Seward Park Conservancy.

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