Volume 17, Number 44 | March 24 - 31, 2005

Signs of life for neglected Varick St. park plan

Downtown Express photo by Ramin Talaie

Construction on the long-delayed plan to convert the triangle at Varick and Canal Sts. may finally begin by the fall.

By Ronda Kaysen

A Virginia-based trade organization has plans to renovate the triangular park between Laight, Varick and Canal Sts. as early as this spring.

Professional Land Care Network, a landscape and lawn care specialist trade organization, has secured $1 million for the park’s restoration, although it is still seeking an additional $2 million to fund five years of upkeep.

Work on the park may begin as early as late spring, said Vicki Bendure, a spokesperson for the organization, although it may be delayed until the fall while final touches on the design are hammered out. She expects the renovation to take six months to a year to complete.

The long neglected park, which was at one point included in a Lower Manhattan Development Corporation grant for Downtown parks, has experienced several delays in its renovation. Last March, Parks Dept. Commissioner Adrian Benepe said that work would be completed by fall 2004, a deadline that never materialized. Earlier plans to renovate the park were derailed after 9/11.

“We haven’t forgotten about the park,” said Parks Dept. spokesperson Warner Johnston. The Dept. is working with P.L.C.N. to develop a design, he added.

Although it is common for outside groups to fund city parks, it is unusual that a single company will take the helm in both the financial and design aspects of a project. “To have a landscape company design and fund [a park] is not something that happens every day,” Johnston said.

P.L.C.N., then the Associated Landscape Contractors of America, decided after the events of Sept. 11, 2001 to use waived membership dues from New York City members to fund a park in Lower Manhattan. L.M.D.C. directed the organization to the Varick St. Triangle.

“The members decided it would be nice to give this green gift to the residents of Lower Manhattan after all they’ve been through,” said Vicki Bendure, a spokesperson for the organization. In 2002, 50 P.L.C.N. members gathered in Chicago to draft the initial designs, which have since been approved by the Parks Dept. and the city Art Commission.

The park’s design includes walkways, access from all three sides, light fixtures, fencing, benches and a fountain designed by Downtown artist Elyn Zimmerman.

PLCN intends to rename the park Renaissance Park.


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