Sara D. Roosevelt Park Advocates Oppose ‘Burying’ Sunken Court as Part of Chinatown Revitalization Funding

Posted on: July 22nd, 2022 at 5:01 am by

With an influx of New York State cash to Chinatown, several area stakeholders are seeking to upgrade a heavily-trafficked section Sara D. Roosevelt Park.

Back in November 2021, Governor Kathy Hochul announced that Chinatown had been awarded $20 million to fund dozens of capital projects as part the Chinatown Revitalization Initiative. Close to forty sites around the neighborhood were identified during DRI process, which is led by a Local Planning Committee of community representatives and supported by State agency staff and a consultant team.

The proposal pitched by the Chinatown DRI suggests that the Pit – the sunken court on the Broome Street belt-line of the park – be “reconfigured” to create another synthetic turf field.

The Sara D. Roosevelt Park Coalition, for its part, wants those earmarked dollars for more meaningful improvements.

The Pit is one of the most widely used, eclectic park spaces on the Lower East Side, playing host to an array of activity and street theater.

From early-morning Tai Chi to weekend bike polo and blacktop soccer (pitch markings were painted three years ago), there is always something happening. And stakeholders say the constant usage by all segments of the population makes the area safer. Even though the homeless and strung-out still sit on the patchwork of perimeter benches.

“After hearing from current residents, local organizations, and sports users, we oppose burying this vital park resource,” Coalition leader Kathleen Webster wrote in an email. “We already have a synthetic turf field [in the park] and are oversaturated with synthetic turf fields used primarily by outside groups.”

The Coalition instead floats a ten-point proposal for better use of funding toward the Pit (pending, in part, the full open public comment forum with CB3):

  1. Renovating the entryway to south of Delancey section would make the front accessible and welcoming – the gardens have stewards they just need a water source;
  2. New wrought-iron fence around the Hua Mei Bird Garden (5-7 foot tall) for safety. Gate back where it was with two means of egress in an emergency;
  3. Remove broken steps leading to the plot areas, create accessible entryways on Delancey;
  4. Pipe a water source – for Bruckner box and water fountains for all four gardens.
  5. Remove the low brick walls that front the two side plots. They collect trash and are used as latrines behind them.
  6. Instead, attached two metal tables (as in alongside MKGarden) in the open walk-way areas. Must be visible from the street to provide seating that doesn’t allow harmful or unsanitary acts.
  7. Repair asphalt from Delancey to the end of the Hua Mai bird area which has become a dangerous pitfall in recent years.
  8. New, brighter lighting, downward facing in that front area.
  9. Fix the benches along the Pit and the asphalt leading up to the front of Broome street Parkhouse.
  10. Grand Street entryway. Remove brick wall alongside Grand Street to create maximum visibility from the street. If needed, use open wrought iron fencing.

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