Have you ever walked past an eyesore in your neighborhood and thought, “I should do something about that?” Well, this is exactly what happened to fourth generation Lower East Sider Dave Bolotsky. A decade ago, he got so tired of the sorry state of Luther Gulick Park, located behind his apartment building, Bolotsky decided it was time to spring into action. Yesterday, his persistence and determination paid off.
There was a groundbreaking Tuesday morning, kicking off a $10 million refurbishment of the park at Delancey and Willett streets. City Council member Margaret Chin, Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver, reps from Community Board 3 and third graders from P.S. 110 were all on hand for the big event.
When the project is finished next year, there will be 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).
Soon after he held an initial meeting in the park in 2009, Bolotsky formed the Friends of Gulick Park. Over the years, the organization grew to include lots of different people in the neighborhood from all walks of life. They held many events in the park and planted flowers and trees. There were public visioning sessions and fundraising appeals to local elected officials.
Council member Chin put out a press release after yesterday’s groundbreaking. Referring to those early overtures from Bolotsky and friends, Chin recalled, “…we both recognized that the neighborhood deserved a green space, but that Luther Gulick Park could not meet this need in its current state. Eventually, David founded the Friends of Gulick Park and, working with the Parks Department and other local leaders, we were able to secure the funding needed for the reconstruction of the park. Today’s groundbreaking signifies the culmination of these efforts and sends a message that every New York neighborhood deserves a truly communal space to call their own.”
Funding was provided by the City Council, Manhattan Borough President and State Department of Transportation. The project is expected to be completed in 18 months.