Volume 74, Number 31 | December 08 - 14, 2004

New conservancy raises big funds for a small park at end of Canal St.

By Divya Watal

Now that the triangular area between Canal St. and the West Side Highway is well on its way to becoming a park, community members who fought for its revival have a new mission: to raise money for its maintenance.

“The Parks Department, as always, has a deficit in maintenance funds,” said Richard Barrett, president of the Canal Park Conservancy, a community-based nonprofit organization formed to “care for, maintain and enhance” the park.

“Our goal is to set up an endowment fund, so that with the interest that’s generated, we can hire a part-time gardener to maintain the park,” Barrett said.

The Parks Department has allocated an annual budget of $15,000 for Canal Park, and the Conservancy, through a fundraising campaign, has already collected $50,000, with an additional $100,000 in pledges. The National Architectural Trust recently donated $25,000 to the endowment fund, payable over two years.

Canal Park, which is funded by the New York State Department of Transportation, is scheduled for completion in the spring of 2005. Parks Department landscape architect Allan Scholl designed it, at a construction cost of $2.5 million, emulating the work of Calvert Vaux and Samuel Parsons, renowned 19th-century landscapers associated with the 1888 design of the original park that occupied the space.

“It’s a great design, and it’s very fulfilling to see the realization of the park after so many years. It’s an updated version of the Vaux design — in fact, it’s even better,” Barrett said.

Barrett was one of the leaders of Canal West Coalition, which discovered the park had been illegally taken over in 1921 to build the Holland Tunnel. The property — on the border between Hudson Sq. and Tribeca — was never demapped as a park. Most recently it was used as a parking lot for Department of Sanitation garbage trucks and vehicles.

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