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Lot Behind One Police Plaza Transformed Into Community Park

By Irene Plagianos | October 24, 2013 6:03pm
 James Madison Plaza, which sits in a triangle across from 1 Police Plaza and Murry Bergtraum High School, opened on Oct. 24, 2013.
James Madison Plaza Opens
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LOWER MANHATTAN —  A little green oasis has cropped up behind One Police Plaza.

The triangular lot, which had been used by police officers for parking since 9/11, has been transformed into a public seating area, dotted with trees, two waters fountains and gardens.

The revamped park, dubbed James Madison Plaza, opened to the public Thursday after community members and elected officials worked for years to reclaim the space, which, like much of the area surrounding One Police Plaza, has been under heavy security since 9/11.

"I didn't want my children to grow up feeling like they were in complete security lockdown," said Jeanie Chin, a resident of neighboring Chatham Towers who has led the effort to refurbish the park, after a ceremony celebrating the opening.

Chin and a group of local residents sued the NYPD 12 years ago to allow public access to plaza.

The residents won the case in 2004, but it's taken a continued push to actually get the park, which sits between Madison Street, St. James Place and Pearl Street, restored and ready for use, Chin said.

“It was so bleak here, it’s wonderful to see trees, to see something beautiful here, finally,” Chin said.

The Lower Manhattan Development Corporation provided $2.6 million for the park rebuilding, and the NYPD provided an additional $109,000 for security bollards, according to the Parks Department.

The park was also designed with community input, the Parks Department said.

A fountain made from a polished granite sphere etched with a world map was created using suggestions from students at Murry Bergtraum High School, which sits across from the park.

“They wanted to include a symbol of all the cultures that make this area special,” Chin said of the fountain. “It’s terrific.”