Taking advantage of the unseasonably warm weather Friday morning, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and state Senator Daniel Squadron shot some hoops on the Lower East Side while announcing their hopes to redo a rundown park.
Luther Gulick Park, in the shadow of the Williamsburg Bridge just east of Pitt St., includes a well-used playground, basketball and handball courts that need repairs and a barren sitting area with cracked paving and little greenery. Local residents say the park could use $6 million of work, including new bathrooms, lighting on the courts, new sidewalks and storm sewers and an overhaul of the sitting area. The first phase, which would just cover the sitting area, would cost $2 million.
So far, the project has $360,000 in the bank from former Councilmember Alan Gerson, a commitment that his successor, Margaret Chin, said she would keep. On Friday, Squadron announced that the state Senate would contribute another $100,000, and Silver and other officials hope to add some money as well — but it will be at least a year before the project gathers enough funding to start work, said Namshik Yoon, Parks Department chief of operations.
Still, the mood was light Friday morning as Silver and Squadron walked around the park with Yoon and local residents. The visit brought back memories for Silver, who grew up nearby and said he spent lots of time at Gulick Park as a child. Tilting back his head, he indicated a barely visible scar just beneath his chin, which he said came from a boy on a swing kicking him many years ago, a blow that required several stitches.
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