Volume 18 • Issue 21 | October 14 - 20, 2005

Board objects to idea to build on playground

By Claire F. Hamilton

Community Board 1 might like the idea of a revitalized Fulton St., but not at the expense of precious open space.

The board’s Seaport/Civic Center Committee expressed strong opposition to the possibility of a residential structure replacing one of the few open spaces on Lower Manhattan’s East Side, currently a tot lot at Pearl and Fulton Sts. known as Pearl Street Park. Nearby residents frequently congregate there.

“The biggest population growth in Lower Manhattan [is happening on] the East side — the Financial District,” Paul Goldstein, C.B. 1’s district manager, said Tuesday night at a C.B. 1 committee meeting where the city presented its plan. The East Side’s population is growing fast and in disproportion to nearby residences, he said, adding that public space should be expanded.

The residential building would be part of the Fulton Street plan, a revitalization project funded by the Lower Manhattan Development Corp., the agency vested with rebuilding Downtown. The plan for mixed-use development on the site is just a suggestion at this point, according to the city’s Economic Development Corporation, the agency working on the project in conjunction with the Department of City Planning and L.M.D.C. “We are at the very preliminary stages,” Janel Patterson, an E.D.C. spokesperson, said in a telephone interview. If the residential structure is built, “we would relocate and enhance the tot lot for the residents in the area.”

E.D.C. and City Planning representatives were not present at the meeting. Instead, board members expressed their concerns to officials for the Department of Parks and Recreation, which presented conceptual drawings of some of the 22 sites that the department is addressing the L.M.D.C.’s green space project.

The city hopes to revitalize the Fulton St. area — a disjointed neighborhood of tawdry shops and a cluttered streetscape—by creating a thoroughfare with improved retail and entertainment, an idea the board generally supports.

“We are interested in the Fulton Street plan except for the residential building,” said C.B.1 member Mark Donnenfeld.

Pearl Street Park is not a city mapped park and could be easily developed by the city as part of the plan.

The board supports the idea of improving the Fulton St. area and incorporating it into the $20 million Lower Manhattan Park Revitalization Project funded by the L.M.D.C. “If decisions are being made as to how to allocate $20 million now, we don’t want to be left out,” said Goldstein.

James Madison Plaza at St. James Place and Madison St., Collect Pond Park and the Pearl Street Park are among the sites the Parks Dept. would like to expand boundaries, install greenery and add benches. The details of each project are still in discussions with Parks and local community groups.

C.B. 1’s top priority for its share of the funding is the redevelopment of the open space at Pearl St, before any improvements to Collect Pond Park, just north of City Hall can be addressed.

City Planning said it would like to expand the park area at Delury Square, near Fulton and Gold Sts. Consolidating two open spaces there—one of which currently exists as a traffic island—would create a one-quarter acre park. A 12,000 square-foot playground is planned for Burling Slip as part of the Fulton St. plan.


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