BY GABE HERMAN | The Parks Department will not be lowering the fence height at the East Village’s Joseph C. Sauer Park after the community pushed back against the plan that was part of upcoming renovations.
The decision was announced by Assembly Member Harvey Epstein and Councilwoman Carlina Rivera on Oct. 18, and Parks confirmed it to The Villager.
A $4 million renovation project is set to begin later this month at the park, which is on East 12th Street between Avenues A and B. New play equipment will be installed, along with swings, synthetic turf, water play, seating, tables, lighting and plantings, according to Parks.
The plan also called for the park’s perimeter fence to be lowered from 8 feet tall to 4 feet tall, which many local residents were not happy about. An online petition, which got over 300 signatures, said the 4 foot fence would make the park “less secure and an unsafe place for children to use.”
The petition page added that the park’s fence is its only means of security at night. The cause was backed by Epstein, Rivera and Community Board 3.
“In response to the community’s expressed concerns,” a Parks spokesperson told The Villager, “NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver visited Joseph C. Sauer Park to evaluate the conditions and decided to keep the park’s existing fence. These decisions are made on a case-by-case basis. We prioritize working closely with residents, community boards, and partner organizations to develop mutually acceptable design plans for park renovations.”
“We are proud to stand with the community and parks advocates who persisted in asking that the Parks Department recognize the safety needs at Joseph Sauer Playground,” said Epstein and Rivera. “The voices of New Yorkers who use local parks every day must be heard when we decide how our capital dollars are spent, and we want to thank Commissioner Mitchell Silver and the Parks team for listening and addressing those concerns in this instance.”
The renovation project is part of Mayor de Blasio’s Community Parks Initiative, which launched in 2015 to focus on parks that have received little attention over the past 20 years in neighborhoods with the greatest need.
Construction at the park is scheduled to be completed in October 2020.