CB 5’s Parks and Public Spaces Committee discusses new additions to neighborhood

Members of Manhattan Community Board 5’s Parks and Public Spaces Committee gathered over Zoom Thursday night. Topics of discussion included plans to add granite curbs and sidewalks to 1 Penn Plaza, the presence of removable retail containers at Columbus Circle’s Maine Monument, the development of a 14th Street Busway Mural, and a temporary art exhibition in Union Square Park.

After opening the meeting, Committee Chair Clayton Smith handed the microphone to Lane Addonizio, Central Park Conservancy’s Vice President for Planning and Damon Bennett, Chief of Park Operations. They shared updates on the restoration of the Central Park Dairy and the use of the Chess and Checkers House as a temporary storage facility in conjunction with the Maine Monument in Columbus Circle.

“As we were approaching the holidays, our biggest retail season, we were looking to place the operations someplace. In dialogue with the Parks Department, the holiday market that’s usually at Columbus Circle was cancelled, so it was identified as the best location absent of the Chess and Checkers Pavilion,” explained Addonizio.

“The Dairy will return in September, and that’s when we will break down the retail operation and move back there.”

Representatives from the Parks and Recreation Department then discussed the temporary, steel, laser-cut sculpture by MIDABI that will stand in Union Square, noting that “It’ll be installed the week of [June] 21st and we’ll have the unveiling ceremony on the 24th,” 

Jennifer Falk, Executive Director of the Union Square Partnership, then shared details about the busway mural on 14th Street, which she suggested could undermine the growing graffiti problem there..

“As everyone’s coming out of the pandemic, and we’re seeing the return of foot traffic and life to the square from a commercial perspective, there’s been an increased pressure on our core services from both a sanitation and a public safety perspective,” said Falk.

“I just wanted to reassure the community board and the members of the public that are here this evening listening that we’re back…to our full summer hours and our extended staffare in the district seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.

The meeting wound down as they discussed MdeAS Architects’ proposed granite sidewalks and curbs at 1 Penn Plaza. 

Chris, a member of the team behind the new sidewalks, discussed the choice of the Belgian “petit granit” used in their construction. “We were looking for something that would unify the district and feel like a part of New York,” he explained. “We love the bluestone in New York. Unfortunately, it’s not feasible these days and not quarried like it used to be, so it’s not really an option.”