PROGRESS REPORT: We’re making the most of our limited park space

Rich Caccappolo is the current “Mr. Parks” of Community Board 2.
Rich Caccappolo is the current “Mr. Parks” of Community Board 2.

BY RICHARD A. CACCAPPOLO | Our community recognizes that we live in beautiful neighborhoods. So, it may be surprising to learn that our district is actually the second lowest in the city in terms of open space per person — just 0.58 acre of parkland per 1,000 residents, or 25 square feet per person.

With so little parkland, our efforts on the Community Board 2 Parks and Waterfront Committee are aimed at protecting and improving the open space that we have, as well as creating and enabling new open spaces for both active and passive recreation. We work in collaboration with our neighbors, and with many others: the city’s Department of Parks and Recreation, other city agencies, block associations, friends groups, conservancies and other nonprofits, as well as our elected officials. Thanks to this joint effort, 2016 was — and 2017 promises to be — an exciting, busy and productive time.

We had many significant park developments to celebrate last year. President Obama’s decision to honor the L.G.B.T. civil-rights movements with the designation of a new national park at the historic site of the Stonewall uprising — including Christopher Park and the surrounding blocks — was especially noteworthy. So was the opening of a new public park, St. Vincent’s Triangle Park, and the New York City AIDS Memorial Park included within it.

In addition, we helped secure funding for repairs that will save Pier 40 in Hudson River Park, an effort more than 10 years in the making. Also, we were able to make progress on the challenge of noise complaints within and around Washington Square Park. This complex issue will continue to be addressed in a way that achieves a balance for musicians, performers, parkgoers and local residents.

Also, in Washington Square Park, we witnessed the commencement of the third and final phase of what has been an extraordinarily successful, though extended, renovation project.

We also celebrated the start of the construction of Pier55, a project we had worked hard to refine and which we supported, though this project was recently interrupted by a federal court ruling overturning the Army Corps of Engineers’ granted permit.

As we enter the warmer months of 2017, we are pleased that the renovation of Soho Square (which will be renamed Spring Street Park) has begun, as has the interim renovation of the triangle on the eastern edge of Duarte Square. We look forward to the start of DeSalvio Playground’s reconstruction, the Father Fagan Park and Charlton Plaza renovation, Seravalli Playground comfort station reconstruction and Passanante Playground surface repairs.

Projects that have been approved and are in process, but in earlier phases of activity, include the redesign of the pedestrian area outside of Little Red School House, renovation of Jackson Square, replacement of the Jane St. Garden fence, wall repairs at the Merchant’s House Museum, reconstruction and stabilization of the stair tower at Tony Dapolito Recreation Center, and development of new park space on Gansevoort Peninsula. We also look forward to seeing the Department of Environmental Protection turn over to our community the spaces that it used during construction of City Water Tunnel No. 3.

And there are other efforts on our list, including the Pier 40 redevelopment plan, the maintenance of Vesuvio Playground, the gardens on Hudson St. south of Bethune St., improvements to the Greenstreets island where Jane and Horatio Sts. meet West St., ongoing storm-resiliency efforts for Hudson River Park, and ongoing improvements — including safety measures — at Bleecker St. Playground. Our committee will also continue to support the effort to preserve Elizabeth St. Garden as a unique, green, public open space and New York City park.

Count them all up: There are nearly 20 park and open-space projects in process in our community. Our committee is proud of our efforts. If you are interested in getting involved, join us at our monthly committee meetings, the first Wednesday evening of each month. For details, visit cb2manhattan.org.

Caccappolo is chairperson, Parks and Waterfront Committee, C.B. 2