By Elizabeth Ladzinski
HELL'S KITCHEN — A small greenspace above the Lincoln Tunnel is finally getting a facelift more than a year after being padlocked by the Port Authority,
Alice's Garden, named after caretaker Alice Parsekian who pruned and watered the flowers in the West 34th Street space for more than 20 years until her death last year, will now be managed by the Hell's Kitchen Neighborhood Association (HKNA) and Clinton Housing Development Company (CHD).
While the Port Authority still owns the land, it will lease it for $1-a-year to the HKNA and CHD.
"It's like a secret garden, in a way," said Kathleen Treat, president of HKNA, of the greenspace between Tenth and Eleventh avenues.
She recalled Alice, who lived on the block, as a woman with great pride in her patch of land, even cleaning nearby sidewalks and picking up trash from tree beds.
"Because there wasn't any fuss, the Port Authority just kind of left her alone," Treat said.
"I never really thought of it much as a community garden," Treat added, explaining that while Alice took care of the garden, she was also protective of it and limited its access to others.
On April 16, the HKNA held a clean-up day for the tiny garden as trash and weeds had piled up since Alice passed away in January 2010. Despite gloomy weather, Treat said there was a good turn-out.
"We must have had something like 13 people there. For something like that, it was a lot," Treat said, adding that the garden is in need of some TLC.
"You almost needed machetes to get into the back," Treat said of getting through the overgrowth.
On May 7, the HKNA will hold its annual "Welcome Spring" event, where neighborhood residents will meet up at 35th Street between Dyer and Tenth avenues to walk through the neighborhood, cleaning up debris and planting flowers.
Treat added that she hopes to soon plan another event inside Alice's Garden to give residents a chance to get familiar with the space.