Just a couple of months after The Lo-Down came into being, in June of 2009, a grass-roots campaign to revitalize Luther Gulick Park on Sheriff Street caught our attention. Almost a decade later, reconstruction of the neglected space alongside the Williamsburg Bridge is finally about to begin.
According to a Parks Department spokesperson, the $9.9 million project will commence in March, with completion expected in 2020. Plans call for an open lawn area, new seating, separate playgrounds for toddlers and older children and active recreation areas for basketball, handball and table tennis. There will also be a new comfort station (bathrooms). The sidewalks and fencing around the park will be replaced as part of the revamp.
Gulick Park had been overlooked for years when local resident Dave Bolotsky decided to do something about the desolate patch behind the Hillman Houses. Before long, neighbors from the Grand Street Cooperatives as well as residents north of Delancey Street began hosting community gatherings, planting parties and planning meetings in the park. They eventually formed Friends of Gulick Park, and raised millions of dollars from city, state and federal sources.
Bolotsky, a fourth generation Lower East Side resident, is grateful the project is now happening, even if it took a decade to put all of the pieces together. “I’m thankful to the Parks Department, to our elected officials and, most of all, to our volunteers and neighbors on the Lower East Side for their dedication to this project and persistence over all these years,” said Bolotsky. “In the not too distant future, we can all look forward to enjoying a beautiful new Luther Gulick Park, a true community space designed to benefit our entire neighborhood.”
The reconstruction of Gulick Park went out to bid in early 2018, although final designs were approved way back in 2014. A groundbreaking ceremony is likely sometime in the spring.