By Alex Hart
As a landscape architect for the Parks Department, I had the opportunity to design a number of spaces, each with its own unique challenges. DeLury Square was among the most interesting of these, partly because of the technical challenges involved, but mostly because I knew how important this small space would be to the many diverse groups who would want to use it. It lies not just at an intersection of streets, but also of tourists and locals, young and experienced, residents and workers.
The design process took years, and in that time the underlying strategies changed many times. This long process was generally not due to bureaucracy, believe it or not. In fact it was quite the opposite. Of the many city agencies and community groups we worked with in developing the design, it was clear that all parties cared deeply about how the space would develop, which resulted in a lot of healthy debate. This commitment extended all the way to Mayor Bloomberg’s office. His administration recognized the importance of green space in the revitalized Fulton Street Corridor, and made sure the funds were available to carve out this new space in one of the most expensive real estate markets in the world.
In the end, I believe these long discussions made the park stronger overall. No single entity got everything they wanted (including me), but we now have a real park space in an area that desperately needs more. The challenge now is to keep the park healthy and growing. As a living entity, it needs our support as it continues evolving to meet the needs of its users. I left the Parks Department in 2013 to start an independent design firm, but I have continued to donate what time I can to help this effort, and I encourage everyone with an interest in this wonderful little place to do the same. It doesn’t require loads of time or any specific expertise – just a desire to improve the place where we live, work, and reconnect with nature.
(Alex Hart's company website is www.centrallandarch.com)