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Stuyvesant Square Park A Step Closer to Funding $5.5M Repairs

By Mary Johnson | March 13, 2012 4:31pm
The fence and sidewalk surrounding the eastern portion of Stuyvesant Square Park are in need of repairs that will cost more than $5 million.
The fence and sidewalk surrounding the eastern portion of Stuyvesant Square Park are in need of repairs that will cost more than $5 million.
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DNAinfo/Mary Johnson

GRAMERCY — The cast-iron fence at Stuyvesant Square Park is the oldest in New York City, dating back to1847. 

It is rusted and flaking in parts, and some of its spires have fallen off. The sidewalk around the fence has been repaved so many times that concrete now covers the bottom of the fence at different points around the historic park.

Elected leaders who have been working to pay for a park facelift are now one step closer to financing the roughly $5.5 million renovation — a price that has climbed nearly $1.5 million since officials first got estimates several years ago.

City Councilwoman Rosie Mendez, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer and City Councilman Daniel Garodnick had successfully pooled the $4 million required to repair the cast-iron fence ringing the eastern portion of the park, as well as the bluestone sidewalk around it. Then the price of the project swelled.

Mendez recently said she plans to take $950,000 that was previously earmarked to renovate Sauer Playground on East 12th Street between avenues A and B and funnel those dollars into fixing Stuyvesant Square Park, which stretches across Second Avenue between East 15th and East 17th streets.

"I think it’s worth the investment of doing that now rather than saddle future generations with the problem of fixing this fence,” Mendez said. "This would make the project whole."

Even with the new chunk of funding from Mendez, the project is short $600,000. The councilwoman said she hopes Stringer can find a way to fill that gap.

A spokeswoman for Stringer said he was proud to have contributed toward the renovations, but she did not indicate whether the borough president's office would be able to fund the remaining $600,000.

"We are currently receiving a large number of requests for funding and give serious consideration to all requests," she said in a statement.

The multi-million dollar expense of fixing Stuyvesant Square Park comes in part because the park is a historic landmark and repairs require specific materials, Mendez explained.

The $5.5 million would fund the renovations on the park's east side of Second Avenue. The fence and bluestone sidewalk on the western side of Second Avenue were long ago renovated with funding from former Manhattan Borough President Ruth Messinger, who left her post in 1997. But the eastern portion of the park has continued to decay.

"That’s what’s been dragging on for my six years in office and my predecessor’s eight years in office," Mendez said.

Garodnick has allocated $750,000 in public funds toward the renovation, and Stringer’s office has put forward about $1 million. About $3.2 million is set to come from funds controlled by Mendez, according to the Parks Department. This includes the pending transfer of $950,000 from Sauer Playground, which must be approved by the City Council.

Mendez said she was saddened to have to take $950,000 away from the playground. But the need in Stuyvesant Square Park is greater, she said.

"We're finally getting around to it now, and it’s going to be beautiful," Mendez said. "I think it’s about time."