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By KAITLYN MEADE | The Friends of Delury Square Park are hosting their first Spring Planting Day on Sat., June 1 to spruce up the small but well-loved — and used — green space on the corner of Fulton and Gold Sts. This is the group’s second big event since its creation last year.
“It’s going to be our first kind of planting where everybody has gotten a good look at the park, whereas last year we had just gotten started,” said Patricia Ryan, a member of Friends of Delury Square Park, who has lived in Southbridge Towers for 35 years. “The first event was the fall planting, and we reaped the rewards this spring with tulips that were out of this world.”
This year, they will be planting flowering plants provided by the Parks Department as part of their “It’s My Park Day” 2013. The Parks Department is also supplying the equipment and a professional gardener to guide volunteers.
The Friends group formed to maintain the park and to educate neighbors on how to take care of the space, said Ryan’s sister, Veronica Ryan-Silverberg, who is the Friends’ coordinator.
After a protracted debate over the project, the city bought the bulk of the land for the 8,850-square-foot plaza from Southbridge Towers in 2008 for about $5.5 million. It’s not often that the city pays you to build a park next to your apartment, and many residents looked forward to the opening of green space along the busy Fulton St. corridor. Developed with money from the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, it opened to the public in the fall of 2010.
The design by landscape architect Alexander Hart manages to create a small oasis by including a small water feature to mitigate noise from surrounding streets, new trees, planting beds and bushes along with benches, a drinking fountain, fences and lighting.
Within six months, the public park was nonetheless overwhelmed by traffic from residents, area workers and tourists, said Ryan-Silverberg. “Most of the plants were destroyed… It became too difficult to ignore it so we reached out to the Parks Department.”
It’s a small park, a gentle park. It can’t handle a whole lot of stuff — so we thought we could give the Parks Department a hand and looked into how we could start a volunteer group,” said Ryan.
A roster of about 15 volunteers does most of the Friends duties, said Ryan-Silverberg, including a team of “cleaning ladies” all of whom are 60 years and up, who take turns to go out once a day and do their own cleanup of the park with tools donated by the Parks Department.
The most recent battle has been over making it a dog-free park, she said, because owners are allowing their pets to use the lawns as a toilet, destroying many of the plants and making it more difficult to keep the park clean. There are already signs prohibiting dogs on the grass, she said, but “they don’t seem to understand the law. They’re certainly not obeying it.”
Ryan-Silverberg said the group is waiting for advice from Community Board 1 before it makes a request to the city to bar canines.
In the meantime, the planting day will replace many of the lost plants with seasonal flowering varieties. All ages are welcome and no R.S.V.P. is necessary to show up. The planting day takes place June 1, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m, with a rain date one week later on June 8. For more information or to volunteer as a regular member, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.