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Chelsea Park May Close for a Full Year During $1.165M Redesign

By Maya Rajamani | March 14, 2016 5:04pm
 The Parks Department's plan for Clement Clarke Moore Park includes installing new play units and swings.
Clement Clarke Moore Park Redesign
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CHELSEA — Clement Clarke Moore Park could close for “a full year” while the city’s Parks Department redesigns the space, a staffer said.

At a Community Board 4 parks committee meeting on Thursday, the department’s Manhattan chief of staff, Steve Simon, said a renovation set to bring new play equipment, swings and general improvements to the park at West 22nd Street and 10th Avenue would likely require a year-long closure.

“People will be inconvenienced,” he acknowledged. “There’s a lot of work that’s going to take place there simultaneously.”

The department had originally planned fix the park’s drainage issues, but expanded the scope of its revamp after local Councilman Corey Johnson secured $1,165,000 in funding for the capital project, a department spokeswoman said Monday.

A tentative design plan unveiled at the meeting last week showed the addition of two new play units with safety surfacing — one for ages 2 to 5 and another for ages 5 to 12 — a new playhouse and new ADA-accessible swings inside the park.

New plantings, decorative asphalt block pavement, World’s Fair benches, an ADA-compliant fountain and ramp leading to the spray shower and lower fences were also included in the plans, in addition to aesthetic improvements, the renderings showed.

While committee members and attendees thanked the Parks Department for its work on a redesign the community has hoped for for years, some expressed concerns about the duration of the project.

Simon said the department’s plan was to start construction by the end of the year or the beginning of 2017, at which point the park would shutter for a year.

“Do parks of this small size [normally] take a year?” committee member Carol Mehas asked.

“If we get a really good contractor, we could bang it out faster than that,” the department’s senior designer, George Bloomer, replied. However, Simon pointed out that 12 months was the “standard length of time for one of [the department’s] contracts.

Others took issue with some of the proposals in the redesign, including reducing the height of the fence around the park as part of the department’s “Parks Without Borders” initiative.

“With the preponderance of homelessness we’ve had in the area… a 4-foot fence gets climbed very easily,” committee co-chair Lowell Kern said.  

“It’s a nice iron fence too — it’s not as if it’s a chain-link fence,” Mehas added.

Others had hoped to see safety surfacing throughout the majority of the play areas.

“This looks nicer, but still not safe,” a female attendee at the meeting said. “It seems like we’re sticking to the footprint that existed, and we’re not going beyond.”

But Simon said the department does not normally put safety surfaces on paths or “general open areas.”

“I don’t know an example where we’ve ever done that,” he noted.

The board plans to write a letter to the department addressing its concerns and asking it to keep the park’s current fencing, segment out construction to avoid closing the entire park and consider expanding the amount of safety surface it plans to install.

Committee member Jean-Daniel Noland said he felt the project should not take a total of two years between planning and the construction phase.

“Two years is too long," he said. "It honestly shouldn’t take two years."