All smiles this past Friday morning as Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver and Lower East Side community leaders celebrated the start of a major renovation project at Seward Park.
The historic public space, the oldest municipal playground in the country, is receiving a $6.4 million revamp as part of the city’s “Parks Without Borders” program. When the project is completed months from now, there will be a new plaza in front of the Seward Park Library, an expanded garden, lowered fencing, new plantings and new perimeter paving.
Friday’s groundbreaking was attended by Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, City Council member Margaret Chin, members of Community Board 3 and local community organizers.
There was praise all around for the Seward Park Conservancy, which led a grass roots campaign for city funding. Before the groundbreaking, Silver noted that he and the mayor came to Seward Park in 2014 to announce his appointment as commissioner. At the time, said Silver, he noticed the high, imposing fencing around the park, and thought the space could be a lot more inviting. Parks Without Borders has since become the commissioner’s pet project.
There is, of course, still lots of work to be done in Seward Park. The conservancy continues to advocate for the renovation of the broken down Schiff Fountain and the reactivation of a community space inside the comfort station.