Volume 20, Number 45 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | November 3 - 9, 2010
With ribbon soon to be cut, residents concerned with safety
BY Helaina N. Hovitz
DeLury Square Park, located at the intersection of Fulton and Gold Streets, finally opened to the public almost five months after its projected completion date. While some appreciate the park’s aesthetically pleasing layout, many are seriously concerned about the multitude of safety and health issues affecting the welfare of their children, pets, and the senior citizen population.
The giant boulders neighborhood children use as climbing apparatuses are tall and sharp; the fountain, surrounded by jagged rocks, is at floor level with the grass and surrounded by these boulders. The fences are low and easy for the homeless people to climb, which has been a reoccurring problem. The rat infestation problem that started when the park’s construction began almost two years ago has not improved; some feel that it has gotten even worse.
DeLury Square Park sits on the corner of the square city block occupied by Southbridge Towers, known for their high population of children and senior citizens. An entrance to the park leads right up to the front door of 77 Fulton Street.
Ondina Nieves, a senior who lives at 77 Fulton Street, recently placed a call to 311 reporting the park’s use of rat poison as hazardous to the neighborhood’s dog population. A sign was put up shortly after stating “no dogs allowed,” however, the sign sits in the middle of the grassy lawn, and many have mistaken this as a warning only to keep their dogs off the grass; it does not indicate that it is equally dangerous to walk them along the paved paths.
Nieves said that earlier that day, she saw a child almost fall from atop one of the ten-foot boulders surrounding the rock-fountain.
Dinella Ascenoso, also a resident of 77 Fulton Street, worries about the safety of her own son, 10-year-old Lucien, and of the other neighborhood children who play in the park. “The boulders may look nice, but you have children and pre-teens playing on giant boulders that look almost as though they’re made for climbing,” she said. “They’re sharp and jagged, and it’s a hazard. What if they fall in the water and hit their heads?”
Ascenoso is also concerned about the rats that prowl around the park, running in and out of rat holes visible in broad day light. “We all saw this coming when the rats moved in and bred during the park’s construction” she said. “The water attracts them, and the trees feed them.”
The Parks Department is supposed to open the park at dawn, and the Southbridge security office is responsible for closing it at dusk; however, since the park is city property, Southbridge Security does not have the authority to enforce disciplinary or regulatory laws.
Southbridge resident Charles Chawalko, 22, is especially disturbed by the fact that there won’t be anyone to get rid of the homeless people who climb the fence and sleep in the park at night. He reports seeing them bathing in the fountain and sleeping on the grass on several occasions. “They built the fence so low, and put benches right next to it. Anyone can just climb in after dark,” he said. “Its nice to see them finally build something down here, but they didn’t think a lot of things through, and now it’s too cold to even sit outside and enjoy it.”
The ribbon-cutting ceremony will commence on Monday, November 8, at 9:45am.
Helaina N. Hovitz is a resident of Southbridge Towers