"Is it not cruel to let our city die by degrees, stripped of all her proud monuments, until there will be nothing left of all her history and beauty to inspire our children? If they are not inspired by the past of our city, where will they find the strength to fight for her future?" Jacqueline Kennedy

Friday, December 13, 2019

Important Meeting On Carroll Park Community Vision Plan This Coming Wednesday

First Carroll Park conceptual design presented in September 2019

It is perhaps not the most convenient time for anyone, but the New York Parks Department has scheduled a meeting to present its revised Carroll Park Community Vision Plan at the Community Board 6 Parks/Recreation/Environmental Protection Committee Meeting on December 18, 2019 at 6:30pm at the PS 58 Auditorium, 330 Smith Street in Carroll Gardens.
The revised Carroll Park Community Vision Plan was created after hearing the community's feedback during the  Public Workshop in February 2019 and the CB6 meeting in September 2019.

There is currently no money set aside in the budget for a total renovation of Carroll Park and any such renovation is still five to ten years, if not further down the road. However, Councilmember Brad Lander was able to come up with a grant of $25,000 with which landscape design firm Starr Whitehouse was engaged to begin the process by creating a renovation proposal based on community outreach.

It is not quite clear what Starr Whitehouse did for the $25,000 except for hosting the first visioning session since the Parks Department clearly came up with the conceptual design presented to Carroll Gardeners this past September.

The community was less than enthusiastic about the first concept. Let us hope that the Parks Department listened to some of the very constructive critique it received and incorporated the concerns and suggestions into this new 'vision.'


Below are excerpt from notes written by Carroll Gardens resident and architect Tim McGinty about the park's redesign and what Carroll Park means to the community:

The presentation began wrong. Instead of beginning the presentation with a broad vision, the presentation focused on factors that limit what can be built in the park. As important as tree-root health, new equipment safety standards, costs, funding, and phasing are, beginning with these topics distracted from the goal of presenting a high level overview and vision for Carroll Park. What was missing was acknowledgement of the importance of the park to the community and that, despite the tiny size the park, Carroll Park has become the civic identity of the neighborhood. The heavy daily use of the whole park as well as it's well maintained green areas, and its many special events including parades, plays, markets, birthday parties, and performances, all contribute to its status in the community.

While the presentation briefly mentioned the success of the 1994 remodeling of the park, that remodeling deserved more attention so its achievements will not be lost as new ambitions are embraced. The 1994 redesign has proven durable and flexible as it has accommodated the changing demographics and growth of the Carroll Gardens neighborhood and has many features which deserve to be continued including appropriate zoning of activities, right-sizing the major activity areas, and an identity tied to natural features including the “landmark” trees and the wooded buffer zone.

It is amazing that the 1994 era design accommodates as many people as it does, as may age groups as it does, as many activities as it does — and all at the same time. The density of use is one of the secrets of Carroll Park’s success and popularity.

In the park, simultaneous, overflowing, and overlapping activities happen year-round, throughout the park, and especially in the asphalt play-yard along Court Street. Within the paved play-yard — in addition to participating parents and small clusters of kids hanging out and not counting the several dozen kids zooming on scooters, trikes, training bikes, skateboards, and rollerblades — there are frequently over 50 kids simultaneously informally playing or practicing some kind of sport such as, football, basketball, soccer, baseball, kickball, even tennis, lacrosse and street hockey. Occasionally there are additional play leaders and coaches teaching groups of novices beginning baseball, softball, and other sports skills. All-in-all an amazing spectacle with both threads of activity and age groups overlapping each other at peak times.

Equally amazing is how few times kids are bumped by balls, how infrequently they bump into one another, and how everyone understands and quickly learns the unwritten rules — be aware — everyone has a right to be there — enjoy the controlled chaos — compromise — and it's ok for play territories to overlap. Shaky first-time cyclists are accommodated in the baseball out-field and sometimes the in-field. Errant balls rolling into other games are simply returned with a quick throw or gentle kick. It’s important that everyone is pretty patient because peak use seems to be reached every nice day throughout the year. “It’s a family out there.”

The neighborhood expressed concern that NYC Parks understands neither what Carroll Park achieves nor which activities most deserve to be continued. NYC Parks’ vision sees the remodeling as an opportunity to create a larger “playground” and not as an opportunity to enhance a very special overachieving “civic park”. The audience’s increasingly heartfelt comments revealed they saw the priorities exactly the opposite.

The neighborhood expressed concern that NYC Parks understands neither what Carroll Park achieves nor which activities most deserve to be continued. NYC Parks’ vision sees the remodeling as an opportunity to create a larger “playground” and not as an opportunity to enhance a very special overachieving “civic park”. The audience’s increasingly heartfelt comments revealed they saw the priorities exactly the opposite. 


Revised Vision Statements
Enhance the reputation of Carroll Park as overachieving neighborhood park despite its small size
- maintain and expand the park’s reputation as a valued place and civic anchor for the community
- maintain the park’s reputation as an all-age destination attracting a wide variety of people in the community
- maintain the concept of shared active play territories and overlapping and intersecting use areas
- increase the variety of activities that attract people from the community
- increase scheduled attractions and provide attractions for each season
- minimize the loss of activities due to Critical Root Zone management
-enhance the ways Carroll Park provides both park and play experiences with an emphasis on the “park experience”
- enhance the park’s role as the neighborhood’s destination place of well-being
- emphasize “active free play” which is more important to the community than play structures
- integrate nature play into equipment play areas to increase flexibility and to reduce the number and size of designated play equipment

Anticipate changing park maintenance and care-taking needs
- include a planting and maintenance plan in the concept design
- manage the Critical Root Zones for the benefit of both trees and people
- anticipate replacing several of the large aging iconic Elms and London Plane trees over the next 15 years
- enhance park aesthetics with additional plants and trees selected to mark the changing of seasons
- add appropriate turf /artificial turf
- expand infrastructure to make the park more flexible for more kinds of events
- remodel the community building to meet daily park user needs as well as community meeting needs.
A refurbished Carroll Park that does not at least accommodate all people and activities that it currently does will not be valued by the community and park use will decline. Ultimately the goal is a refurbished park loved and heavily used by the whole community.




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