Seward Park Conservancy Forms with the Goal of Ending the Neglect

Posted on: October 30th, 2014 at 6:04 am by
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It was the first permanent, municipally-built playground in the United States, yet Seward Park receives little love outside the history books. What began a project by the Outdoor Recreation League (Lillian Wald and Charles Stover) to get kids off the streets was eventually snatched up by the City of New York. Rarely is this past touted. Neglected, much like the parks itself, with a lack of overall care and maintenance by the city Parks Department.

Well, neighbors in the immediate vicinity recently organized with the intention of adddressing longstanding issues of neglect within Seward Park. The crusade started as a block association of sorts called Friends of Seward Park, but is now a legit conservancy focused on “keeping a bright, safe, beautiful, active public park and playground.” Seward Park Conservancy, as it’s now known, received its 501(c)(3) status earlier this month, which officially allows the group to collect charitable donations.

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Schiff Fountain doesn’t work

The platform issue of the nascent Conservancy is Schiff Fountain, which, in the words of organizers, has tremendous potential. It’s an icon of Seward Park, but in total disrepair; a constant reminder of its former reputation as a “Needle Park.” It’ll take lots of cash and support to return its former glory.

Other goals include eliminating the terrible rodent problem (there is only one exterminator for all parks in Manhattan), opening the Essex gates (closed for safety reasons), and increasing overall awareness of the park to nearby residents. Apparently even those in Seward Park have never entered the premises.

For the moment, the Seward Park Conservancy is in fundraising mode, soliciting donations for well-connected neighbors. It hopes to eventually gain the attention of other powerful conservancies throughout the city for more support.

Maybe it’ll gain enough traction to grab some of the $130 million that Mayor de Blasio earmarked to fix 35 long-neglected parks.

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