NEW YORK - In the shadow of the Williamsburg Bridge on Delancey Street on a warm early fall day, folks are playing ping-pong, kids are playing on the swings and shooting hoops. It's Gulick Park, which didn't always look so inviting after falling into disrepair.
What You Need To Know
- Gulick Park on the Lower East Side received a 10 million dollar renovation through a mix of city, state and federal funding
- The Friends of Gulick Park formed 11 and a half years ago to push for improvement to the park
- Improvements include new play equipment, pavement, plantings, fencing, seating areas
- There are also new basketball courts, ping pong tables and fitness equipment
"The Park resembled an abandoned lot for about thirty years," said David Bolotsky, a fourth generation Lower East Side resident who founded Friends of Gulick Park with neighbors 11 and a half years ago.
Their calls for improving the park were heard. A $10 million, 18 month long Parks Department renovation project has added new play equipment, recreational opportunities, new pavement, plantings, fencing and seating area. It’s a lush green park for the Lower East Side that received city, state and federal funding. Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver says the timing for unveiling this new oasis couldn't have been better.
"To have this open space, particularly during COVID, when people are so hungry for open space and green space, this is large enough you can social distance, and as you can see, it's already very popular," Silver said.
Members of Friends of Gulick Park are pleased with the results.
"I was just constantly looking at this abandoned lot and saying what a crime, what a wasted opportunity it was," said Bolotsky, whose two children grew up playing at the park.
"The kids liked the playground even if it was kind of rickety, but I guess I saw the vision of what it could be," said Kim Sillen, a steering committee member with the group.
Now that the project is done, what does the future hold for the Friends of Gulick Park? Bolotsky says they hope the park will become a crossroads for neighbors on the Lower East Side.
"One of the beauties of parks, is that it's an equalizer, it's a gathering place that we need more than ever today," said Bolotsky who is encouraging everybody in the community to participate in it and enjoy it and keep it looking great.
Writer and Lower East Side native Laurie Shapiro, called the transformation unthinkable, in a good way.
“What you might have heard is it was also named the ugliest park in New York and believe me it was pretty ugly, but it was convenient, and now it's beautiful and convenient, which is the right combination I think," Shapiro said.
She says it’s an example of the pride of those who grew up here or decided to make it their home.