Earlier this week, Manhattan Borough President and City Controller candidate Scott Stringer announced his $1 million pledge to restore a historic Harlem fire watchtower at the heart of Marcus Garvey Park. In the 19th century, the 47-foot tower served as a lookout point and the bell was raised in case of imminent danger. Today, the tower no longer protects the community but threatens it, showing substantial signs of decay and neglect. Running a tight race against Eliot Spitzer, Stringer lags behind the former governor in terms of African American votes and is thus seeking to salvage one of the community’s most valued landmarks. The past few days, he has generated good publicity from his ability and desire to fund this restoration project.The $1 million provided by Stringer, along with the $1.75 million contributed by Councilmember Inez Dickens and $1.25 million by Mayor Bloomberg will be used to preserve the tower. The project includes a full restoration of the tower’s cast-iron structure, the removal of deficient parts, and the additional construction of a stainless steel support system. As the 157-year-old tower continues to deteriorate, with parts of it falling from its structure each day, Stringer assures that the restoration project will contribute to a safer environment for Harlem inhabitants. Stringer plans on working collaboratively with the Mayor’s Office, the Department of Parks and Recreation, the Marcus Garvey Park Alliance, and the Mount Morris Community Improvement Association in order to protect a historic component of Harlem’s culture and history. The fire tower is the only surviving one of eleven cast-iron watchtowers placed throughout New York City since the 1850s. The project will ensure the preservation of one of the city’s most treasured historical remnants and will ultimately lead to a safer environment within the Harlem community.
Posts tagged with "Parks":
The Embassy of the Republic of Korea (ROK) has donated two parcels of land in Arlington County, Virginia’s Courthouse area, and now the county is reaching out to the community for help in designing its first temporary pop-up park. The Departments of Parks and Recreation and Community Planning, Housing and Development have devised a survey to determine how the public would like to use the new open space on Clarendon Boulevard. Features already planned for the park include ADA accessible paths, an assortment of moveable seating, a modest grass area, and a landscaped barrier between the alleyway and open space. Oddly shaped and along a main commercial street, the third-of-an-acre property is within a dense area and is expected to have a great impact by providing immediate reprieve to neighboring residents. Based on public feedback, the park could have short-term recreational facilities and space for small-scale games. Possibilities also include areas for food trucks, vendors, and temporary outdoor markets. The county plans to preserve several shade trees and improve site drainage. To emphasize the impermanent nature of the park and to reduce construction costs, a portion of the building materials will be recycled from existing surplus materials in Arlington County. Since permanent alterations to the site will require approval from ROK, enhancements will generally consist of surface improvements designed to curtail any need for excavation, thereby permitting the park’s features to be re-utilized at other locations. While the land was offered rent-free for a two-year term, the property can be used by the city until ROK or the county terminates the contract. The topic is still open for public input. To make your voice heard, participate in the survey before the August 19 deadline.
A new four-acre park opened this past weekend in downtown Newark providing public access to the Passaic River for the very first time. Flanked by the bay and river, the city is home to one of the nation's largest containers shipping terminals, yet residents have long been cut off from the waterfront. This new stretch of parkland occupies the former site of the Balbach Smelting and Refining Worksone and is now part of the Riverfront Park that neighbors the 12-acre Essex County Riverfront Park. Designed by Lee Weintraub Landscape Architecture and the Newark Planning Office, the park features an orange boardwalk made of recycled plastic, a floating boat dock, sports fields, walking and biking paths, and an area for performances. Once a dumping site, the polluted river is an EPA Superfund site and in the midst of an intensive clean-up process. The project--a joint effort between the City of Newark, Essex County, and the Trust for Public Land--cost $9 million in private and public funding. An additional 3-acre segment of the park is in the works and planned to break ground in the near future once all the funding is secured.
Originally named for its once thick forests and lush meadows, the former industrial neighborhood of Greenpoint, Brooklyn now has a real shortage of green space. The Brooklyn Paper reported that parkland will only grow scarcer with the pending closure of Sgt. William Dougherty Park, located on the corner of Cherry Street and Vandervoort Avenue, as soon as the state begins its four-year construction project to replace the Kosciuszko Bridge. Greenpointers have expressed concern about the temporary loss of the park, and Assemblyman Joe Lentol has asked the lawmakers in Albany to allocate a portion of the funding reserved for the bridge construction to building a new park. One local resident has already scouted out a possible location at an empty five-acre parcel on Kingsland Avenue between Greenpoint and Norman avenues.
Yesterday City Council green lighted new zoning to allow commercial development in 40 historic structures on Governors Island. This change will introduce restaurants and retail establishments to the sleepy, mostly park-filled island, and also help to generate revenue for the upkeep and operations of the island's parkland. One stipulation of the rezoning is a commitment from The Trust for Governors Island to use union labor for all construction projects. (Photo: Courtesy Trust for Governors Island)
Nearly 10 years after shining as the “crown jewel” in the Downtown Brooklyn Redevelopment Plan, Willoughby Square Park has a clear path to construction. The one-acre park, designed by Hargreaves Associates, will be a passive space offering a moment of calm just half a block from the bustling Fulton Street Mall, but there will be plenty of action beneath the surface, where a robotically controlled parking garage will arrange 700 cars in a very compact space. The fully-automated, underground parking garage replete with plasma screens, cameras, and lasers will be located under the park and will help defray some of the costs of the its development. Automotion Parking Systems' space-saving technology also means that the garage can fit more cars than a traditional garage, cutting down on the cost of excavation. As a result, the Willoughby Operating Company will be able to cover the construction of the park and the garage with $6 million it has raised from city funding, the Economic Development Corporation, and private donors. The company has also promised to cover any additional expenses. That comes as good news, as the costs of relocating tenants, acquiring land, and funding cuts have hampered the park’s progress over the years. A ceremonial groundbreaking is planned next week on August 1 and the park is scheduled to open in 2016.
Los Angeles, are you ready to design your own Central Park? Friends of the Hollywood Central Park (FHCP), a nonprofit formed in 2008 devoted to developing a 44-acre street-level park capping Hollywood's 101 Freeway, has initiated a new web feature encouraging residents to imagine their own dream parks in order to transform Hollywood’s densely populated, park-deprived neighborhoods into healthy, prosperous green spaces. In collaboration with Central Hollywood, East Hollywood and Hollywood Studio District Neighborhood Councils and the Hollywood Chamber Community Foundation, the ambitious venture will reunite the communities presently separated by the Hollywood Freeway. The Design Your Own Park tool makes it possible for individuals to create their own versions of Hollywood Central Park by offering a range of possibilities to choose from, including large features such as fields, cafés, dog parks and libraries and smaller features such as rocks, trees, and benches. The site’s simplicity makes it easy to participate in the design process, and the tool also allows users to invent their own park elements. Laurie Goldman, FHCP president, recently told StreetsBlog LA, “knowing the level of interest in the community about Hollywood Central Park, we decided the best way to get input on what should be built was give everybody a chance to create their dream park. This is everybody’s park, and everybody should have an opportunity to submit their own ideas.” A Psomas Engineering cost estimate marks the total development price at approximately $1.15 billion. As a result of an $825,000 grant from the city and a $1.2 million donation from the Aileen Getty Foundation, the landmark infrastructure project is one step closer to making the park a reality. The plans are now under environmental review, and a scoping meeting and community meeting are expected to take place in the near future.The Draft Environmental Impact Report will be open for public comment in 2015.
Connecting two existing waterfronts—Battery Park and East River Park—the rehabilitation of the East River Esplanade has been a catalyst of renewal along Manhattan's East River. The latest phase of the plan—by SHoP Architects and Ken Smith Workshop—extends the current three-block-long Esplanade north, adding recreational amenities and addresses the challenges of building a new landscape beneath an elevated highway between Catherine Slip and Pike Slip in Lower Manhattan.. The so-called "Package 4" aims to create a "front porch" for the Lower East Side by introducing new street furniture such as conversation benches, bar stools, lounge chairs, picnic tables, and swing sets hanging from the FDR highway overpass. The new plan also includes the prospective installation of amenities such as elevated exercise platforms, a skate park, games tables, a synthetic turf field, waterfront fishing docks, and multiple bike paths. The project’s designers wish to integrate a significant amount of perspective and dimension on the site by conserving already-existing open lawns, installing light fixtures under the FDR highway overpass, building multi-leveled seating and benches, and planting a diversity of foliage. Pending approval from the New York City Council and City Planning, the project should be complete by Spring 2015.
The Minneapolis Parks Foundation and the Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board have announced that two New York-based firms, SCAPE / Landscape Architecture and Rogers Marvel Architects, will collaborate to design Water Works Park, part of the city’s ongoing RiverFirst project. Slated for completion in early 2014, Water Works Park will be incorporated into the existing Central Mississippi Riverfront Regional Park above St. Anthony Falls, the only true waterfall along the Mississippi River and an important part of Minneapolis' history. The park already draws 1.6 million visitors each year, a number that officials expect to increase with the addition of the year-round, multi-use park. As part of the initial stage of the RiverFirst plan, Water Works Park will feature a series of walking and biking trails that will allow visitors access to the Mississippi as well as the adjacent neighborhoods. The plan is part of a 20-year vision to develop a 5.5-mile stretch of riverfront property in Minneapolis with an emphasis on urban ecology and mobility. SCAPE and Rogers Marvel beat out 26 other bids from the U.S. and Europe to win the project in a unanimous decision. In a press release, the selection committee highlighted the two firms' collective knowledge of the site, particularly its historical, cultural, and natural significance. SCAPE and Rogers Marvel will work alongside local planning and design teams, a factor that committee members considered when making their decision. “In our interview, it became clear that the principals of the SCAPE team work uncommonly well together, and can build a rapport with diverse partners and audiences,” they stated in the release. Schematic design for the project is scheduled to begin in August, and will include additional input from James Lima Planning + Design and SRF Consulting.
In just the nick of time for outdoor summer weekends in New York City, Norton Architecture and Design Books has released a Guide to New York City Urban Landscapes. It's a concise and beautifully illustrated guide to thirty-eight public spaces that claims to be the "first wide-ranging survey of New York urban landscapes from the first half of the nineteenth century to, well, tomorrow." Researched and written by Francis Morrone and Robin Lynn with photographs by Edward Toran, it's focus is not just Manhattan and its celebrated public spaces like Times Square and the High Line but also on little-known sites like the Concrete Plant Park on the west bank of the Bronx River and Erie Basin Park and Newtown Creek Nature Walk in Brooklyn. It also features the relatively-unknown (at least to me) Urban Garden Room in the Bank of America Tower and my favorite Liz Christy Garden on the northeast corner of Houston and Bowery. This is perfect book to consult before your relatives come to town and expect an insider's tour of the city or before you pass by an unknown bit of green in the city. Many of the urban landscapes described in the guide are likely known only by nearby residents or only the most keen city observers.
The median of a downtown stretch of State Street is now home to the latest of Chicago’s People Spots, a series of parklets sprinkled throughout the city as part of its “Make Way for People” program. Dubbed "The Gateway," the portion of State Street between Lake Street and Wacker Drive features shaded tables and chairs in what the city is calling its first “People Plaza.” Flowerboxes, banners, and bright red and blue colors lighten up the otherwise utilitarian median. While the spot’s central location is probably its greatest asset in attracting visitors, satisfying views of downtown’s architectural gems impart some elegance to the straightforward design. Chicago Department of Transportation Commissioner Gabe Klein, 42nd Ward Ald. Brendan Reilly, and Chicago Loop Alliance Executive Director Michael Edward were on hand Friday to dedicate the space, touting business opportunities for nearby restaurants and bars. The goal of the program is to activate public space for placemaking's sake, with economic development expected for nearby retail corridors. A cleaning team will service The Gateway from 7 a.m.-10 p.m. each day through the end of September, according to a press release from the Chicago Loop Alliance. On Saturday, the city is hosting a bicycle tour of the People Spots in Andersonville and Bronzeville.
[beforeafter] [/beforeafter] Much has been brewing at Brooklyn Bridge Park (BBP) over the last six months starting with the opening of Pier 5 to the completion of Squibb Park Pedestrian Bridge. And now, according to DUMBO NYC, the Park, along with Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, recently unveiled plans at a community meeting to overhaul the Main Street section of its 1.3-mile waterfront stretch at the foot of the Manhattan Bridge. [beforeafter] [/beforeafter] The proposal sketches out space for a variety of activities and amenities such as an outdoor nature exhibit facility, a new Department of Environmental Protection building with restrooms and center for children's educational programming, a revamped landscaping program, a bouldering wall, a dog run, and an area reserved for active recreation.