Volume 78 / Number 10, August 6 - 12, 2008
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since

C.B. 2 report opens ideas for new open public spaces

By Albert Amateau

Community Board 2, which includes Greenwich Village, Soho, Noho, Little Italy and Hudson Square, has the second-lowest amount of open space of Manhattan’s 12 community board districts.

The district’s 30 parks, with a combined total of 20 acres, and the 16 smaller Greenstreets areas, with a combined total of 1 acre, works out to .40 acres of open space per 1,000 residents.

So it’s no wonder that Villagers are so worked up about their access to parks and anxious about even temporary closings for renovations.

And the community board last month responded to those concerns by issuing a 28-page Open Space Project inventory of possible areas that can be reclaimed as public open space for the district between 14th and Canal Sts. from the Bowery to the Hudson River.

One potential expansion area cited in the Open Space Project report is on the west side of Sixth Ave. between Spring and Broome Sts. The area is really a service street located along the west side of Soho Square park, and the report breaks it down into two segments: one is a 15-foot-wide stretch between Broome and Dominick Sts. in front of Chelsea Campus High School, and the other is a 12-foot-wide stretch between Dominick and Spring Sts. in front of 145 Sixth Ave., a commercial condominium building, and 155 Sixth Ave., a Trinity Real Estate office building.

The Open Space report proposes to close this service street and make it part of an expanded and renovated Soho Square park. Opposition to the proposal might come from motorists who park on the service street, the report warns.

The Sixth Ave. open space expansion could be included in the city Department of Transportation’s NYC Plaza Program, which collaborates with community partners to transform underused streets into neighborhood plazas. D.O.T. and the city Department of Small Business Services would provide up to $50,000 per year for three years to eligible plaza-management partners to maintain the area.

For more information, groups should contact Vaidila Kungys at plazas@dot.nyc.gov.

Other potential expansion areas cited in the Open Space Project report are in the southern New York University superblock. The 50-foot-wide strip where the Time Landscape is planted along LaGuardia Pl., now owned by N.Y.U. and maintained by the Department of Parks, could be transferred to the city under the N.Y.U. 2031 plans in the future, the report says. The Mercer St. Playground and dog run, another N.Y.U. property maintained by Parks could also be transferred and upgraded, the report suggests.

Three sites where water shafts are under construction for the city’s Third Water Tunnel are planned to become park space when construction is complete, the report says. One is at Grand and Lafayette Sts., the other is at Hudson and Clarkson Sts. and the third is in front of the Merchant House at 29 E. Fourth St, between Lafayette St. and the Bowery.

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