Volume 78 - Number 28 / December 10 - 16, 2008
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933

Villager photos by Jefferson Siegel

From left, Matt Weinreich, president of the Jackson Square Alliance and a vice president at Hines Interests, the developer of One Jackson Square; City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, and David Penick, another Hines Interests vice president, at last week’s holiday lighting ceremony.

Developer is helping build a better Jackson Square

By Albert Amateau

Jackson Square Park was full of West Village neighbors on Wednesday night last week for a new-and-improved holiday lighting ceremony that promises to be an annual event.

About 125 people came by to ooh and aah as the lights went on in the fountain at 6:15 p.m. Dec. 3 and to hear members of the West Village Chorale lift their voices in Christmas carols.

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and Manhattan Borough Parks Commissioner Bill Castro sang the praises of the Jackson Square Alliance, a group of neighbors who over the past six months helped transform the .227-acre triangle from an unsavory corner to a neighborhood oasis.

The alliance, which includes representatives from 2 Horatio St., 14 Horatio St. and One Jackson Square, has been working for nearly a year on neighborhood improvement.

“It’s an island of a park in the bustling city,” said Matt Weinreich, president of the alliance board of directors and a vice president of the Hines Interests, developers of the One Jackson Square project on the Greenwich Ave. side of the square.

Jackson Square’s fountain was brilliantly illuminated for the holiday season.

Weinreich lauded the Department of Parks and Recreation’s willingness to work with neighbors to focus on transforming the square, where homeless people used to panhandle, drink and relieve themselves.

The alliance raised upwards of $100,000 to fund Park Enforcement Patrol presence in Jackson Square, and to improve plantings and seating in the park. The alliance and the Parks Department also established the Wi-Fi hot spot that allows Internet access in Jackson Square.

Beginning last summer, PEP officers have been making sure park rules and public decency are maintained.

“The park is open to anyone as long as they follow the rules,” said Edward Rosario, a PEP officer for the past seven years who is one of the officers assigned to Jackson Square.

“It’s like a ‘Wonderful Life’ moment,” said Castro, praising the neighbors and officials whose joint efforts are making a difference in Jackson Square.

Quinn recalled that when she was on the staff of then-City Councilmember Tom Duane in 1992, “Our main quality-of-life complaints were about this park, and it’s taken all of you working together to finally get it under control,” she said.

Philip Monaghan, a resident of 2 Horatio St. for the past 15 years, organized the Dec. 3 event, which included free hot chocolate from Bonsignour, the cafe on Jane St., and free chocolate from Li-Lac, on Eighth Ave. at Jane St. a block from the park.

In addition to Weinreich, the Jackson Square Alliance board of directors includes Jamie Hammel and Eddie Tawil, both of 2 Horatio St.; Ken Lill and Harlan Bratcher, both of 14 Horatio St., and David Penick, another Hines Interests vice president.

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