Part of Sara D. Roosevelt Park gets early curfew

By Elizabeth O’Brien with Suzanne Zionts

Despite some community objection, a stretch of Sara Delano Roosevelt Park between Broome and Delancey Sts. will close after dark instead of at 1 a.m., according to the city Parks Department.

Officials from Parks and the Police Department said they could not comment on when the changes will go into effect. The early closing comes in response to a sexual assault that happened on the walkway between Broome and Delancey Sts. in June, said Detective David Yat of the Fifth Precinct. Yat said that the earlier closing would serve as a crime deterrent, and that barricades might be erected to block the walkway.

Some community members say the police are hyping crime statistics.

“They’re making up stories to control public space,” said Anna Magenta, a member of Forsyth Gardening, Inc.

The planned closing would eliminate a shortcut across the park, so that those who want to cross Broome will first have to walk north or south.

“That’s a big inconvenience,” Magenta said.

Others were similarly quick to protest the early closing.

“This park is one of the few areas in the Lower East Side where people can hang out,” said East Villager Lauren Kelleher, who until recently worked at Grilled Cheese & Co. restaurant on Ludlow St. “It’s a shame because it is a safe park and people should be able to enjoy it past dusk.”

At its July full board meeting, Community Board 3 passed a resolution in support of the “evening closure” of the Delancey and Broome St. area of the park, said Martha Danziger, district manager for the board. A Parks Department spokesperson said that the agency was supporting the decision of the community.

Magenta said that the real reason behind the planned closing could be for the convenience of the Parks Department employees who work at the department’s central communications building, located along the affected stretch of Broome and Delancey.

“I smell they’re closing it because people at central communications are concerned about the homeless and I don’t think that’s right,” Magenta said.

Margaret Johnson, a spokesperson for the Parks Department, called Magenta’s allegations “unfounded.”