Volume 22, Number 19 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | September 18 - 24, 2009

DeLury Park breaks ground

Benches and manmade waterfall aside, the new DeLury Square Park will echo the lush landscape of Manhatta as Henry Hudson discovered it 400 years ago.

DeLury Square’s towering trees and jagged boulders “will be like a little piece of the country,” Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe said at the groundbreaking last Thursday. The new park will be a small reminder of the forest Hudson found in 1609, Benepe said.

The $2.6 million park, funded by the Lower Manhattan Development Corp., is slated to open next spring. The city created the 8,800-square-foot park space by buying a parcel of land from the adjacent Southbridge Towers complex and bumping the existing concrete plaza out into the intersection of Fulton and Gold Sts.

Before landscape architect Alex Hart designed the park, he met with Southbridge residents about what they wanted to see. The residents, including many seniors, liked the benches on the existing plaza but requested a more inviting space, frequently using the word “oasis.” One resident suggested a water feature that would block the noise of traffic from the busy intersection.

Hart designed a waterfall that pours into a reflecting pool and paths that meander through flowers and fragrant shrubs. He is maintaining nearly all of the mature trees that now dot the plaza (a couple will be transplanted) and will add 16 saplings.

“You can’t call it a renovation of DeLury Square because it’s such a transformation,” Benepe said.

The park will retain its name, which honors John J. DeLury Sr., a Sanitation Dept. worker who fought for better conditions and better pay. He united several factions among the workers and in 1956 founded Local 831 of the Uniformed Sanitationmen’s Association. Harry Nespoli, said DeLury deserves credit for, among other things, changing the term “garbage man” to “sanitation worker.” The union’s headquarters are nearby.

Several Southbridge residents who attended last week’s groundbreaking said the new park would be a big improvement over the crowded plaza and the old Fulton and Gold street pattern. The city is reconfiguring that intersection so the streets meet at a right angle, rather than in a sweeping curve, a change that made the park possible.

The city also paid Southbridge Towers about $5.5 million for the 5,800-square-foot piece of land that forms the bulk of the park. In remarks at the groundbreaking, Southbridge board president Wally Dimson praised the city for the park’s design and added his hope that the park be completed with no delays.

— Julie Shapiro


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