HELL'S KITCHEN — A tiny Hell's Kitchen park has a new look and a new name, in memory of a local woman who tended it for decades.
The overhauled Teresa's Park memorializes Teresa Mattia, a well-known fixture in the neighborhood whose family cared for the green space on West 39th Street between Ninth and 10th avenues in the shadow of a ramp leading to the Port Authority Bus Terminal.
Before officially reopening with a new name on Thursday, the park got a makeover by volunteers, led by the Cultivate HKNY and the Clinton Housing Development Company, with funding from Mattia's family and the neighboring Mark Fisher Fitness, which both raised thousands of dollars online. The refurbished park, which is only a few hundred square feet, has new plants, pavement and furniture, totaling $11,000.
Mattia died in September 2012, at age 51, after battling multiple sclerosis for decades.
Mattia's son, Mario, was thrilled when he walked into the fixed-up park with his father, Carmine, and grandfather, Giovanni Quartuccie on Thursday afternoon.
"It's overwhelming," Mario Mattia said. "It used to basically be a parking lot. Now it's a way to reminisce about a great person."
Local officials, include State Sen. Brad Hoylman and Assemblyman Dick Gottfried, were also on hand to remember Teresa.
Carmine Mattia, 58, said that his wife frequently spent time in the park, even going so far as to bring a hose across the street from their home to water plants.
"We'd come here all the time," he said.
The park on the Port Authority-owned land will soon get even more additions, including a vintage sign from the New York Butchers' Dressed Meat Company dating back to 1905 and a sculpture by Vera Lightstone.
"Even though this is a park surrounded by bus ramps, it can still be contemplative," said Joe Restuccia, executive director of the Clinton Housing Development Company.
The park is part of a network of four in the neighborhood that can be accessed using a common "HKNY Park Key," which can be obtained by contacting Community Board 4.