LINCOLN SQUARE — The public park that hosted Fashion Week until a lawsuit forced it out will undergo a landscaping project to restore trees and plantings park advocates allege were destroyed in its wake.
This past February marked Fashion Week's last stand in Damrosch Park, the small public green space next to the performing arts center at West 65th Street and Broadway. During its five years there, the event limited public access to the park and ruined plantings, park advocates claim.
Under a settlement reached in December between NYC Park Advocates, the Committee for Environmentally Sound Development, the city and Lincoln Center, no private events like Fashion Week can monopolize the park going forward and new landscaping must be added.
Lincoln Center contracted Mathews Nielsen Landscape Architects to craft a plan that must be completed by the spring of 2016, according to the settlement.
Trees that died or were removed from the existing Maple tree grove in the middle of the park will be replaced, said landscape architect Signe Nielsen, describing the plan she presented to the public Monday.
In addition, new pink Crape Myrtles will be added to the 18 individual planter boxes that sit near the park's entrance, she said. The planters will be refreshed with new plantings of flowers and grasses underneath the trees.
The plan also calls for planting 12 new Zelkova trees, which can grow up to 50 feet, in a long planter at the north side of the park.
The Zelkova was selected in part because it responds well to urban environments and "has a very beautiful fall color," Nielen explained.
"[These trees] will not be providing shade, but they will provide a very elegant foreground to the Opera House," she said.
The planter on the south side of the park already counts 11 trees that haven't been well pruned but will remain in place, with the addition of two Zelkovas, Nielsen noted.
If any of the existing trees don't make it, they'll be replaced by Zelkovas, she added.
The plan also calls for planting azaleas and two new trees in another planter that's currently filled with gravel, Nielsen said.
Aside from upgrading the park's natural elements, the architects proposed adding 15 picnic benches with umbrellas to a raised platform at the edge of the park that sits directly in the sun and has no trees to offer shade.
"The entire effect [of the plan] will be one that’s extremely pleasing," Nielsen said.
The advocates who brought the lawsuit were mostly pleased with the restoration and landscape plan.
They were furious, however, that Lincoln Center planned to keep a white tent up in the park through the summer.
"This community is very unhappy with what’s going on with that tent for the next six months," said Olive Freud, a local resident and member of the Committee for Environmentally Sound Development. "We’d like to see a temporary garden there."
But Lesley Rosenthal, a lawyer representing Lincoln Center, reminded those assembled that the agreement regarding events in the park takes effect in the spring of 2016.
The plan still needs the final approval from the Parks Department, which will take a few weeks, said Manhattan Borough Commissioner Bill Castro.
When the new landscaping is completed, the department will host a public event to mark the changes, he
Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that a judge ruled Lincoln Center was repsonsible for damaging trees and plantings during Fashion Week.