One man’s trash is another man’s community park.
After 10 years of work by community members and city officials to establish a park on Chelsea’s 20th Street, "Chelsea Green," has finally opened to the public. It’s the first community park in the neighborhood to open in more than 40 years.
The quarter-acre park, between Sixth and Seventh avenues, has new playground equipment, a small water feature for kids, a green turf in its middle, concrete and bench seating around its perimeter and a large brick wall that would be great for screening movies on, officials say.
With $5.8 million in city funding, Chelsea Green replaces a New York City Department of Sanitation garage.
"A garbage-strewn eyesore of a parking lot has been turned into an awesome neighborhood park," Matt Weiss, the president of the Friends of Chelsea Green group, said at a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Thursday.
The event drew hundreds of neighbors, city officials and community board members, and dozens of children, who celebrated the opening with food, champagne and music by the Lesbian & Gay Big Apple Corps.
"When I walked here today, I kind of got a little emotional when I saw how many people were at Chelsea Green and how beautiful it is," Council Speaker Corey Johnson said at the opening.
The effort was a decadelong "community organizing struggle and extravaganza," he said, explaining that the project was started at the community board level when Weiss pitched the idea. From there Weiss and Sally Greenspan lead the initiative to get community input and approval for the park.
"We’re New Yorkers, we don’t give up," Weiss said.
Chelsea has so little open public space that it ranks 58th out of 59 community board districts, Johnson said.
"In a time when there is so much turmoil and pain in our country and a time when you want to look away from the television every single day, we need moments to feel good," he added. "And this is a moment to feel good."