13 Downtown parks to get $25 million

By Josh Rogers

Downtown Express photo by Ramin Talaie

Bowling Green Park will be improved as part of the plan.

The Lower Manhattan Development Corp. will spend $25 million to create or improve 13 Downtown parks or plazas within the next two years.

Most of the improvements will be finished within a year and “all will be done within 21 months” said Madelyn Wils, a member of the L.M.D.C. board of directors. Wils has worked with the city Parks Dept. on the agency’s document detailing how it will spend the L.M.D.C. money.

“I’m excited about the whole $25 million in a time when there is a shortage of money, with people waiting for things to happen at the World Trade Center site,” said Wils, who is also chairperson of Community Board 1.

If Wils is right about the 21 months, it would not be quite as ambitious as the timeline of short-term improvements Gov. George Pataki announced at the end of April in a speech about Downtown’s future. Pataki announced the L.M.D.C. would spend $50 million on parks and other projects. “All of them will be completed within one year,” the governor said. “We can’t wait any longer.”

Wils said there will be a new park and plaza in the package — a triangular park at Canal, Varick and Laight Sts. and a new plaza at the east of Wall St.

Improvements will be made to the Bosque area in Battery Park, Bowling Green Park, Washington Market Park (new drainage), Brooklyn Bridge Plaza, which is currently used as a sparking lot by police personnel, Drumgoole Plaza, Coenties Slip, Old Slip and Tribeca Park.

In the Community Board 3 area, Wils said a new field would be added to Sara D. Roosevelt Park, fields would be renovated in East River Park, and improvements would be made to Columbus Park in Chinatown.

Officials are expected meet soon after Memorial Day and release the Parks Dept. document this week, according to one source.

Wils said she likes the fact that they are working on the north and south sides of the board. “It’s nice that with Battery Park and the Canal-Laight St. park we’re creating entrances to Lower Manhattan that will be kind of special,” she said.

Construction on the park at Canal and Laight began earlier this year. Wils said the fountain that was eliminated from the design was restored, thanks to the L.M.D.C. money. The agency was created by Pataki at the end of 2001, and funded by Congress.

Wils did not disclose specific dollar amounts, but she said the Battery Park restoration was the most expensive, followed by S.D.R. and East River Park. She said one of her regrets is that the C.B. 1 area does not have places to build new fields like in the Lower East parks. “Too bad we don’t have more open space solutions in Lower Manhattan,” she said.

The new Wall St. plaza is the first piece of an East River master plan the community board developed with the Downtown Alliance.

Wils said, “We have a mayor and governor who really like parks, and that’s great.”


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