MANHATTAN — After years of funding shortages that kept New York City's oldest cast-iron fence in a state of dereliction and disrepair, the city has collected the entire $5.5 million sum needed to restore the structure to its former glory.
Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer has agreed to kick in $600,000, topping off the money needed to repair a fence surrounding Stuyvesant Square Park in Gramercy. Other allocations of cash came from City Council members Dan Garodnick and Rosie Mendez.
"We are delighted to contribute needed funding to complete the renovation of historic Stuyvesant Square Park, a hidden jewel of the Gramercy Park and Stuyvesant Town neighborhoods," Stringer said in a statement.
"This community deserves great credit for their work to beautify Stuyvesant Square, making it a welcoming space that is cherished by residents and visitors alike."
Stuyvesant Square Park stretches across Second Avenue between East 15th and 17th streets. The western portion of the fence was long ago restored in keeping with its landmark status. But the eastern portion has been left to rot.
And since officials first estimated the cost of the necessary repairs several years ago, the project's price has swelled by $1.5 million.
The fence is rusted and flaking in parts. The spires atop some fence posts have gone missing, and the sidewalk that encircles the park has been repaved so many times that in some places, the cement swallows the bottom part of the fence.
Stringer previously chipped in $1 million for the renovation. Garodnick has contributed about $750,000, and Mendez has secured about $3.2 million, including $950,000 she reallocated from another playground renovation project back in March.
"We're finally getting around to it now, and it’s going to be beautiful," Mendez said in March. "I think it’s about time."
With the funding now in place, the eastern portion of the fence can be repaired and restored to its original splendor and the sidewalk surrounding it can be replaced with bluestone slate to mirror the fence on the western side of Stuyvesant Square.
Community members have applauded news of the project's full funding, which came just days after members of the Community Board 6 parks committee decided to draft a resolution asking Stringer to pitch in the remaining $600,000.
Now, that resolution will be amended to thank the borough president and to ask that the Parks Department keep the community board informed as the project moves forward, said Gary Papush, chairman of the CB6 parks committee.
"This has been one of our top budget priorities for more than 20 years," said Papush. "Once this is done, we’ll look to other capital items that need our attention."
Mark Thompson, chairman of Community Board 6, added a note of thanks to council members Garodnick and Mendez for their contributions, as well as to the Stuyvesant Park Neighborhood Association, which has also been advocating for the repairs.
"It’s been a true community effort," Thompson said. ”We’re all very excited now that the borough president has come through with a significant amount of funding that provides the icing on the cake.
"Now work can finally start."