Completed in the spring of this year, the spectacular renovation of the small park at the corner of Bleecker and West 11th streets was the result of a true community effort. The renovation would not have become a reality without the advocacy and action of Village resident Clifford Ross, the receptiveness of the Parks Department, the financial support of Council Speaker Chrisine Quinn and Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, and the support of the community, in particular the members of the Friends of the Bleecker Street Playground. In addition, Senior Landscape Architect Gail Wittwer-Laird from the Parks Department incorporated all of the community’s wants and needs for the space, while bringing her own vision of the park as a light-filled space that welcomes passersby. The renovation will be presented with a 2012 Village Award at GVSHP’s Annual Meeting on Thursday, June 7th.
The park was built 46 years ago and had never undergone a renovation. Its age was more than apparent in the buckling brick pavement, broken down benches and tables, and lack of plantings. Ms. Wittwer-Laird also described in her plans for the new design how the full-grown Linden trees, combined with the park’s location adjacent to a 6-story brick building, often made the park seem somewhat dark and foreboding. The community also requested that the park remain open to the sidewalks to preserve the park’s function as an open public square.
After meeting with Village resident Clifford Ross, the Parks Department and Speaker Quinn committed to the renovation. Along with Ross’s funding commitment, Quinn was able to secure public funding. One of the renovation’s most successful qualities is the retention of openness between the sidewalks and the park, preserving the park’s function as an open public square. The pavement’s light color brightens the dark space, and plantings soften the edges between the playground and the surrounding buildings. The space is even ADA accessible, an important concern of the community.
Please join us on Thursday, June 7 as the renovation of the Bleecker Street Sitting Area is awarded a Village Award for its extraordinary transformation of a public space, made possible through the persistence of the community and a public-private partnership. We hope to see you at GVSHP’s 2012 Annual Meeting as we honor the Bleecker Street renovation and seven other awardees who are being honored for their contributions to the Village. Check out Off the Grid’s posts on all the 2012 Village award winners.