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Grand Army Plaza

The Daily Plant : Wednesday, November 14, 2001

FISHERMEN AND BEACH-GOERS REJOICE!


Photo by Malcolm (Cinema) Pinckney

Staten Island’s Midland Beach is poised to become 835 feet more spectacular. Future generations will know a pier that carries them out over the Atlantic, a place where they can experience the ocean as though they were afloat in it. On Thursday, November 1, 2001, Commissioner Henry J. (StarQuest) Stern, welcomed Staten Islanders to one of Parks’ latest construction site.

A $9 million project, symbolically begun at the groundbreaking on the first day of the month, seizes on the borough’s defining geographical feature: New York Harbor. The harbor once drew Dutch settlers to form coastal neighborhoods along the beach. In the 19th century, the island’s sandy shores attracted investors who developed Happyland Amusement Park for the thousands of New Yorkers with money and time to spend. In 1935, after the park closed in the midst of national economic crisis, this land was deeded to the City of New York. Laborers with the Works Progress Administration built a two and a half-mile boardwalk and dedicated it to their employer, President Roosevelt. In time, additional amenities have been added.

The design, which was named Project of the Week earlier this year, calls for four shade pavilions and a comfort station. Night lighting will extend fishing hours into the evening. At the request of local fishermen, Parks will build fish cleaning and cutting stations along the pier. Decorative hooks for fishing rods will be fashioned in the form of sea horses. Benches and drinking fountains will also be installed. The pier will be paved with red hex blocks and inlaid with bronze forms. Signs along the pier will tell visitors about the plant and wildlife that inhabit the beach.

Funds from Mayor Rudolph (Eagle) Giuliani, Borough President Guy (Tough Guy) Molinari and a New York State Clean Water/Clean Air Bond Act grant enable Parks to begin work on this imaginative addition to Midland Beach Pier. The work is part of citywide efforts to reclaim New York City’s waterfront from industry and return its bounty to people. On the hottest days this summer, the City’s beaches saw 130,000 bathers. In the future, they will have new reason to visit Midland Beach.

Council Member James (Old Town) Oddo and Staten Island Borough Commissioner Tom (Richmond) Paulo addressed visitors at the groundbreaking and members of the design team, led by Project Manager Reza (Razorcat) Mashayeki, were present to witness the start of construction.

DONELLAN SQUARE GROWS GREEN

This season, Donnellan Square will grow by 7,200 square feet. Its color will change from gray to green. Donnellan is a hybrid property—part pocket park, part greenstreet. Through the Greenstreets program, begun in 1996, Parks converts paved traffic triangles into miniature gardens. Today 1,765 greenstreets bloom across the city, 234 in Manhattan.

The Director of the Greenstreets program, Gail (Edelweiss) Wittwer Laird, created the new design for Donnellan Square. Her plan calls for new plants to bloom each season. Fifteen Linden trees will bud in spring, and 17 fragrant Japanese tree lilacs in late July. Vibernum and Clethra will be enjoyed each autumn, and a large evergreen tree may be used for Christmas time lightings. Parks is adding 12 benches, from which visitors can take in the view of Sugar Hill, and lights to keep them there on into the evening. In this reconstruction, contractors will also remove a concrete retaining wall and lower the park to its original level.

Council Member Stanley (Falcon) Michels allocated $210,000 for the reconstruction and Parks has matched the sum. DEP permitted Parks to build around their water vault; the Catskill Aqueduct, which supplies most of the city’s water, runs underneath. The West Harlem Community Preservation Organization offered input on the design and has agreed to help Parks care for the site and to plant—this season—800 daffodils as part of a citywide memorial to those who perished at the World Trade Center. Next March, one million daffodils will bloom in New York City. By then, these changes will have been completed and Donnellan Square, grown and green, will be open for the public to enjoy.

DAFFODIL PLANTING CONTINUES IN PROSPECT PARK

You can help plant 15,000 Daffodils in Prospect Park to commemorate the thousands of people affected by the World Trade Center attack. The planting will take place this Sunday, November 18 from 12:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. The planting is part of a citywide campaign to plant one million daffodils as a memorial. To participate, meet at the General Warren Monument at Union Street and Flatbush Avenue next to Grand Army Plaza in Brooklyn. Call Patrick DuBois at (718) 965-8960 with questions or to RSVP.

THIRTEEN YEARS AGO IN THE PLANT

(Wednesday, November 16, 1988)

AARON COPLAND BIRTHDAY CELEBRATED WITH CAKE & SONG

The Arsenal Gallery echoed with soothing music Monday night, as the Gregg Smith singers belted out a medley of songs to celebrate the 88th birthday of Aaron Copland, one of America’s greatest composers. Later, spectators sang happy birthday and munched on cake. Earl Brown, composer and President of the American Music Center, and Vivian Perlis, author and musicologist, spoke about the life and times of Copland.

QUOTATION FOR THE DAY

"The sea is the land’s edge also, the granite

Into which it reaches, the beaches where it tosses

Its hints of earlier and other creation:

The starfish, the hermit crab, the whale’s backbone."

Thomas Stearns Eliot (1888-1965)

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