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Lower East Siders Pitch Plan for Redesign of Gulick Park

By Patrick Hedlund

DNAinfo News Editor

LOWER EAST SIDE — A group of local residents working to shape the future of a public park near the Williamsburg Bridge gathered Wednesday to offer ideas for the declining 80-year-old green space.

Gulick Park, located on Delancey and Columbia streets, stretches over two blocks adjacent to the bridge with co-ops, a nursing home and parking garage surrounding it.

Two years ago, volunteers from the neighborhood banded together to form the Friends of Gulick Park and held a "visioning session" to solicit ideas for how the space could be better utilized.

After securing $1.5 million for the redesign, about 35 volunteers met on Wednesday to discuss key components of the park and how it could be improved to serve the community.

"It's a bit of blank slate," said Dave Bolotsky, founder of the Friends of Gulick Park. "Definitely let your imaginations run wild."

The volunteers were broken up into five separate groups to focus on the park's entry points, uses, visibility, role in the community, and look and feel of the space.

The park currently counts handball and basketball courts, a playground area, open green space and an oval-shaped area with a spray shower.

The consensus coming from residents at the meeting was that the basketball court, which bisects the park, should be relocated to allow visitors better overall circulation through the space.

Other suggestions included adding more greenery, developing a "topography" to the space with sloped sections, a central lawn area, art installations, shorter fencing to increase visibility, public programming like dance or music performances, moveable furniture, and a farmers market.

A survey conducted by Friend of Gulick Park back in 2009 revealed additional trees and plantings topped park-goers' wish list for the space, followed by a renovation of the southwest section sitting area to allow for more passive recreation activities.

A Parks Department representative on hand at the meeting said the city will take into account residents' proposals for the park and incorporate them into its larger redevelopment plan.

However, Bolotsky reminded that a complete overhaul of the park could cost up to $6 million, meaning construction would have to be done in phases.

The Friends will make the results of the process available on its website, with the hope of construction starting in the spring or summer of next year.