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City Scraps Plan To Lower Chelsea Park's Fence Amid Safety Concerns

By Maya Rajamani | August 3, 2016 3:44pm
 The fence around Clement Clarke Moore Park.
The fence around Clement Clarke Moore Park.
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DNAinfo/Maya Rajamani

CHELSEA — A beloved park in Chelsea will keep its original wrought-iron fence following neighborhood outcry over the city’s plans to lower it.

The city’s Parks Department had planned to reduce the height of the fence around Clement Clarke Moore Park as part of its Parks Without Borders program, but longtime residents and Community Board 4 members expressed vehement opposition to the plan, citing concerns about safety and the park’s history.

After the department’s Manhattan chief of staff heard the community's concerns at a meeting last month, the department halted its plans for the park at West 22nd Street and 10th Avenue, CB4 waterfront, parks and environment committee co-chair Lowell Kern said Wednesday.

“I don’t know exactly what happened at Parks, but we got a phone call the next day saying they’d agreed to maintain the current fence,” Kern said. “Parks heard the desires of the community, and we’re very grateful that they’ve agreed to listen to what the community wants and go along with it.”

A Parks Department spokeswoman confirmed the park’s current fence will remain in place.

“In response to the community’s expressed concerns, NYC Parks agreed to keep the park’s existing fence,” she wrote in an email. “We work closely with community boards and partner organizations in developing designs for park renovations, and our aim is to resolve any issues and end up with mutually acceptable plans.”

The decision marks a victory for residents who felt a lower fence would be detrimental to the park, as neighborhood children often leave scooters and other toys inside the park overnight, Kern explained.

Those may have disappeared if the fence had been lowered, he added.

Kern also believes the fence has kept the park from becoming a drop-in spot for Chelsea’s late-night clubgoers.

“Every kid who’s grown up in Chelsea in the last 20 years has spent time in that park, running in the field in the summertime,” he said. “It’s really a community institution, and we want to maintain it that way.

“I don’t think Parks Without Borders gets that done for us,” he added.