LOWER EAST SIDE — Let there be light.
That's the message of a new Orchard Street exhibit aimed at shedding light on the much-talked-about "Low Line," a proposed project that would create an underground park inside an abandoned trolley terminal on Delancey Street at the foot of the Williamsburg Bridge.
The exhibit, which opens Sunday and will be on display throughout the month of April at the Mark Miller Gallery, is meant to generate community support for the ambitious plan that would use a funneling device to "irrigate sunlight" into the defunct train station.
“It’s a chance to see the technology, to see the design,” said Dan Barasch, 35, a co-founder of the project.
“I think this is really about people beginning to feel ownership with this,” he added. “We want to have a real dialogue with the community.”
Barasch and his fellow co-founder, James Ramsey, 34, unveiled their idea for a subterranean park last year, calling it the Delancey Underground project. They launched an online fundraising campaign through the website Kickstarter and have since raised more than $140,000.
Now, they are looking to muster even more community support for the plan. So when gallery owner Mark Miller approached the pair about putting together an exhibit to promote the project, they jumped on board.
“Something like this is a game-changer. I think it would be great for New York City,” said Miller, who also serves as president of the Lower East Side Business Improvement District.
“I see so many potential uses. And more importantly, it would increase foot traffic to the Lower East Side.”
For the month of April, the walls inside his gallery will be filled with renderings of what the founders hope the Low Line will look like one day.
Those images stand in stark contrast to a series of photographs, taken on a site visit last year, that show how the derelict terminal looks now. The station, which has been shut down since 1948, is damp and dark — and that’s where the technology will come in.
The exhibit features a device, a model of which now sits in the front window of the gallery, that will “irrigate sunlight” into the underground space. One part of the device will absorb and collect sunlight before funneling it through a tube and spitting it out underground.
But Ramsey noted the technology itself is not groundbreaking.
“They made similar devices in ancient Egypt,” he explained. “It’s proven that it works.”
That sunlight will illuminate the dark, underground space and allow plants and trees to grow there, the founders explained.
In September, they plan to build a full-scale model of the high-tech system inside the old Essex Street Market warehouse, creating another exhibition for members of the public to explore.
“We have to build a movement this year,” said Ramsey, emphasizing the importance of earning broad public, political and financial support. “That’s going to be what makes or breaks the entire project.”