Bruce's Garden Won't Be Disrupted by Parks Dept. Project

By Nigel Chiwaya on March 5, 2014 4:27pm 

 The Parks Department has revised its plan to bring water to Isham Park after locals raised concerns the project would destory neighboring Bruce's Garden.
The Parks Department has revised its plan to bring water to Isham Park after locals raised concerns the project would destory neighboring Bruce's Garden.
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DNAinfo/Nigel Chiwaya

INWOOD — Bruce's Garden will live to see another blooming season.

The beloved uptown community garden named after a 9/11 first responder will be spared from previously planned construction work that gardeners said would harm the green space.

The Parks Department has revised plans to run a water pipe under the garden near Isham Park and will instead snake the pipe under the sidewalk at Park Terrace East, officials said Tuesday night.

Locals and elected officials including City Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez and state Sen. Adriano Espaillat were concerned the work to supply water fountains in Isham Park and Bruce's Garden would threaten the garden.

In a letter to northern Manhattan's elected officials, the Parks Department's Manhattan borough commissioner, Bill Castro, said the Parks Department took locals' concerns into account.

"I directed the Parks' engineers and landscape architects to revisit the options for bringing water service to the upper level of the park to ensure that even minimal intrustions on Bruce's Garden are avoided," Castro wrote.

Bruce's Garden is named after Bruce Reynolds, a Port Authority officer killed in the World Trade Center attack. Reynolds' father, J.A. Reynolds, has been the garden's caretaker for more than 30 years and founded the park's leadership group, the Isham Park Restoration Project, 1970 Inc.

Parks Department officials said the work had been approved by Community Board 12 and IPRP leadership last fall. But Reynolds said he had been ill at the time and that members approved the plans without his consent and are no longer with the group.

Reynolds and fellow IPRP member Aaron Scott created an online petiton in January asking the Parks Department to alter its plans. The petition picked up 213 signatures and prompted Rodriguez, Espaillat, Councilman Mark Levine and Assemblywoman Gabriella Rosa to write a joint letter in support of preserving the garden. 

Isham Park and Bruce's Garden have been without water service and drinking fountains since the 1970s, Reynolds said.

Garden managers said they were pleased the memorial green space wouldn't be disrupted.

"We're satisfied," Reynolds said.

"They finally respected that this was a memorial park," added Inwood resident Claudette Robb Ross. 

And Rodriguez and Espaillat both hailed the change of plans.

"I am so pleased Bruce's Garden will remain untouched and that Isham Park, that has needed water for so long, will finally see this realized," Rodriguez said in a statement. "Isham Park will continue to be a beautiful destination in Inwood for people from across the city, and Bruce's Garden will remain its beating heart."

Espaillat added: "Bruce's Garden has been a valued space in our community for over 40 years, and holds special emotional resonance as a memorial. Working together, we've been able to achieve a terrific outcome with the city that protects this resource."

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