We could all use some good news, right? Well, here’s some. This weekend saw the long awaited debut of the newly refurbished Luther Gulick Park.
Some of the most active members of Friends of Gulick Park gathered yesterday for a low-key, socially distanced celebration of a moment that was 11 years in the making. The park, located alongside the Williamsburg Bridge at Willett Street, just received a $10 million face lift. There’s a new lawn area, lots of seating, refurbished basketball and handball courts, two ping pong tables, new bathrooms and a state-of-the-art play areas for kids of all sizes.
No one had to make a grand announcement about the reopening after the 18 month construction project. When we stopped by Saturday afternoon, the playground was already filled and neighbors were strolling through the park, enjoying a beautiful fall-like afternoon.
It was a pretty emotional day for Dave Bolotsky, the fourth generation Lower East Sider who founded Friends of Gulick Park. He’d been advocating for the project for more than a decade, along with a diverse collection of residents from across the neighborhood. It took a lot of perseverance and patience. Over many years, they lobbied elected officials and government agencies for funding, held countless community building events in the formerly dilapidated park, led a thorough local visioning process and worked closely with the Parks Department on the design.
It was always really important to Dave and his fellow neighborhood organizers that the new Gulick Park, at the crossroads of the Lower East Side, feel like a public place that everyone could enjoy. As he walked through the park, Dave told us it was gratifying to see so many people doing just that on the very first day.
Dave also had words of encouragement for anyone who’s struggled to get something positive done in their neighborhood: Don’t give up!