Beautification of Central Park Features To Go Forward

Written by Alissa Fleck on . Posted in News Our Town, News West Side Spirit, West Side Spirit.


Select parts of Central Park suffering from deterioration will see improvements by the end of the year

Community Board 8’s parks committee unanimously passed two motions last week to maintain and upgrade distinct portions of Central Park which have suffered in recent years.

The Central Park Conservancy brought forth a proposal to conserve and beautify Grand Army Plaza, a popular tourist attraction at 5th Ave and 59th Street. Grand Army Plaza houses the Sherman monument which, according to Conservancy members, is currently in rough shape.

Grand Army Plaza_Photo courtesy of Central Park Conservancy The proposal, in place to move forward this spring, will include several components. The Sherman monument will be conserved and re-gilded. Missing trees in the area will be replanted — a double tree line formation is to replace a single row — and Bradford Pear trees will be replaced by London planetrees, which are more sustainable and have looser canopies for easier pruning and improved view.

The new tree formation is intended to create a better sculptural backdrop to the monument. The rooting zone will also be ameliorated.

Pavement in the plaza will also be fixed to allow for improved appearance and greater accessibility, including leveling out of uneven gradation.

Conservancy representatives and Community Board 8 members agreed that better attentiveness is needed to keeping the plaza looking cleaner in the future. One Conservancy member noted horse-drawn carriages in the area allow for a self-perpetuating ecosystem where pigeon and rat populations flourish because of dropped horse feed. This has been an ongoing issue, he explained. The unique area’s overall maintenance is also affected by drainage and the subway which runs underneath it.

The Conservancy said it plans to replicate what was historically done with the plaza but using improved technology.

The committee also passed a motion to reconstruct the East 79th Street playground, geared toward young children, just south of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The Conservancy plans to build on the playground’s current layout, which allows it to be integrated into the local landscape. They pointed out the play equipment currently in use is mismatched to the age range — two to five years old — which uses the park. In recent years, new regulations have denoted what play equipment is appropriate for what age range, measures which were not in place when the play area was built.

New plans for the playground going forward will maximize user accessibility and provide sustainable structures and landscape. Additionally, all equipment will be accessible to users with mobility problems. All play implements will meet American Disability Association (ADA) standards.

The fence currently surrounding the play area, which creates a harsh contrast between the playground and surrounding vegetation, will be moved back and modulated for better integration into the landscape, while complete security will be maintained within the playground.

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