I like these awards. I like honoring local people – each offering a version of not giving up, of how they figured out to stand with others. Stepping in, even if they can’t always win, they’re still willing to try.
Like Debra – who fights for the right to an educational system that everyone could trust in.
Like Ryan – who knows that art and artists are essential, and creates possibilities.
Like Kim Fong who built a diverse and compassionate staff to care for her seniors.
Like my brother Paul, who intervened when racism or sexism played out on the construction site.
Like my mom who after my dad’s heart attack went to work nights taking an hour-long bus ride to a production-line job with men who didn’t want her there, but because she decided to win them over – they became her fiercest allies.
Like Sgt Prado from our community policing unit who tried desperately to save a young women’s life, but couldn’t, and didn’t try to hide his grief.
Like Marvin and other young men that Bob Humber ‘takes under his wing’ who have no housing, but have a home with him. Each choosing the other.
Like my ‘now’ family: all brilliant, good men: Steve, Lee, and Adam.
Like my friend and comrade Azi Khalili whose bravery, smarts and love extend over a large part of the world, literally saving lives.
Like all of us who try, in Alice Walker’s words, to add our own ‘small stones to the pile’.
Like anyone who dares to get up again after all the ‘tries’ that didn’t work.
I try not to second-guess how we’ve survive our lives, but also try not to assume that any survival strategy determines our lives forever. And to remember that oppressive systems pit everyone against everyone on every possible difference. But that we don’t have to accept that.
To me, a hero is someone who understand that sometimes the bravest thing we can do is to show vulnerability or listen or wait or risk a mistake. And sometimes these are the only things that save lives in a tough, but very beautiful, vast world filled with all the rest of us, heroes all, who are trying too.
First, thank you officers for taking the time to listen to the concerns of some of our residents, business owners, landlords and SRPCC long-time volunteers. It was a good meeting and a good start with both of you.
PO Surathud Sumranchuen firstname.lastname@example.org
PO Anthony Oconnell email@example.com
Hoping we can keep each other informed and interconnected on park issues.
Update on park safety:
The Park Manager removed benches on the Forsyth Park side of the park alongside the MTA’s plywood wall from Rivington to Stanton. He removed benches due to a recent uptick in drug dealing and violence in that corridor.
This is the long corridor with no egress that was mentioned to the MTA at their meeting. As soon as possible, we are asking to have the plywood fencing removed (or shortened?) It would mean less likelihood of someone being trapped inside the park in that corridor with no real visibility.
Rivington playground continues to have adults some acting irrationally, some appear fine who may help make the area feel safer, but parents don’t go in because it doesn’t feel safe enough to go into the playground with young children.
One of our gardeners (88 years old) was injured when a woman threw shoes directly at his face. One of our gardeners, a young woman, while standing with a few of us outside the M’Finda Garden gate was punched (very) hard in her back by a passing stranger who kept walking.
Other violent crimes resulting in longer term injuries seem to be a problem with drug turf.
We urgently ask that the Parks department reconsider the new playground design which, as we understand it, still intends to have seating for “adults without children” in a section separated only by a low 3′ fence. Despite the fact that those of us who watch this playground (like Bob who sits outside this playground almost daily) have repeatedly asked to have a high fence separating the two areas – with an area for seating for ‘adults without children’ out in the open and a gated entrance with a high fence going north/south for the “adults with children” entryway.
It would reduce the size of the playground a bit but an important trade-off for more safety.
The adult seating wouldn’t need to be fenced, it could be planted and garden-like. We like having the bike food delivery guys, elders and those needing respite sitting here as they make the area safer. And we want safe areas for our homeless people.
In the past, our NCO officers have requested to have signs posted saying “ONLY adults with children may enter the playground section” (with some seating for parents). If we have that signage, the police can remove adults who cannot function well there. If adults can be anywhere in that playground? Divided only by a low fence? Our long experience tells us that we will have adults who are not in command of their minds in there with NO ability for the police to remove them until something goes wrong.
We have a community of adults who just want a safe place to sit and families with children who just want a safe place to play. For the few who are not capable of keeping themselves or others safe – we need more structure to prevent disasters.
Thanks all. Back to our Memorial Day weekend ‘off’.
We are grateful for the funding that is coming to Sara Roosevelt Park from these sources!
$15 Million from Soho Noho Rezoning CM Chin (and our advocacy – tooting our own horn!) $10 million from Mayor 2nd quarter 2023, $3.5 DRI including Grand to Broome – Governor Hochul (and The Alliance advocacy).
Thank you Commissioner Perez and NYC Parks Department for getting us in motion to see infrastructure long needed here. Thank you COS Steve Simon for conducting the meeting with patience and verve. Thank you to all Parks staff who helped.
There was a great deal of agreement on the issues of importance:
Safety see below
More Green space see below
Accessibility – pathways must be redone. Entryways must be rebuilt and made ADA accessible.
Water source – or we won’t be able to maintain any greenspaces!!
More activation more below
Garbage/Rats In progress, Garbage cans on Delancey would help with rats – Jamil can’t make that happen. Ask electeds to help or BIDs? Find out who has been tipping over the needle boxes (Mike from 5th precinct youth officer keeps having to stand them up).
Fight for NYC Parks funding – outside funding doesn’t come with funds for our union workers or the temps. (see below)
Misc: permit issues in turf fields, specific use PEP presence, specific use of police presence, questions on ‘legacy’ of this park (whose legacy?), dog runs.
Proposals to shrink it to:
Make a large garden space.
Build small seating garden area.
With badminton/volleyball area with priority to local schools (girls have asked for a space for years)
Take down its fences
Complaints that our astroturf fields are taken over by out-of-area sports teams – leaving local Public schools to use concrete spaces.
Remove fencing around it – almost everyone agreed it would be more welcoming. Now it feels less safe, being ‘trapped’.
Plethora of Ideas
Many different ideas, real constraints given funding (and Parks maintenance budgets – staffing).
Too expensive to move Pit (and many in the neighborhood and grandfathered users do not want it buried or moved).
The retaining walls and south end entryway – big issues with engineering re ground underneath and getting better visibility from the street – expensive.
The uptick in random violence all over NYC (frightening – isn’t predictable it and can’t be ‘prevented’ or even mitigated in the usual ways. Post pandemic/Trump/fentanyl-K2 – whatever the causes.
The ‘cures’ to violence available we believe are:
-lighting (downward facing)
-activate the area
– kiosk with seating in Broome street run by/ shared by local small businesses. BIDs help? Dumplings? Maybe Ceci -Cela would help (though they had to close nearby – rent hikes) with cafe tables and chairs (maybe stored in Broome parkhouse?)
– share space in Broome parkhouse with some local organization that could have an ongoing outside presence/activity at Broome.
– PEP presence (Sundays 9am -11am at Hua Mei bird area).
– Police on foot crossing through the park at random times.
– (fyi PEP at Rivington pass-way too)
– Water Sources Bruckner Boxes in this section!!
– Enlarge the side ‘garden’ plots, with walkways wide enough to be ADA accessible (future uneven ‘sinking’ -due to the uneven surface the entire park rests on- would matter a bit less if it occurred inside gardens).
– side plots need to be green, low plantings, easily maintained and any bushes/trees spaced out for visibility by law enforcement, Dogwoods or more drought tolerant Red Buds.
– remove the low brick walls. Nothing good happens there: trash collected behind them, misuse.
– The Hua Mei bird gardeners expressed not wanting their space to be ‘bigger’. Instead, they asked for red Hibiscus. We bought one to confirm they can remain outdoors during the colder months. They tends it with great care. Buy more of those? RED. Lucky color.
Commissioner Perez already immediately acted to remove dangerous trapping and derelict looking fencing asap. It has already made a difference. Repair all the Hua Mei fencing (but a bit higher on the sides and back – just NOT where the birders lean over the low fence to see their birds hanging in the cages.
Hua Mei in need serious rat mitigation – Jamil knows and is on it (the whole area does due to trash from Delancey).
GET Sanitation to install TRASH CANS on Delancey!!
The three front facing plots don’t need enlarging: de Britto, Ribbon (Lanape) middle plot (TBD)
– to keep them unique we need our local gardeners to continue to tend them (or future locals who would like to) organizations now helping SRPCC, Tenement Museum staffer, Youth Explorers 5th Pct,, MKG Head Gardener Ftizgerald, local residents, Citizens for NYC.
–All four of these plots are connected to ‘legacies’ of this park: Black people (de Britto underway and funded, Middle plot TBD?, ‘Ribbon plot’ becoming Lanape (underway), Chinese legacy (Hua Mei exists).
-Right now these areas are activated mostly by the crews we bring in to help (Tenement Museum will do tours once garden de Britto is completed). The Hua Mei birder volunteers, and the 5th Pct Youth Explorers. It is safer whenever they are here.
Whatever plantings recommended by the architects crew – please have a ‘courtesy talk/walk- through’ with our 40 year gardener in this park Kate Fitzgerald. She knows what can survive here.
– dog runs can’t be anywhere near the Hua Mei area – dogs barking scares the birds (we’ve been through this).
– but dog runs could help activate the area! Probably only a ‘small dog’ dog run could fit in this section.
– perhaps shrink the soccer field and put a ‘small/medium sized dog’ dog run at the entrance? feasible?
South end Grand. Make this an area with a beautiful open entryway that opens up the area with a focus on visibility and accessibility and safety – use most of the DRI funds for this area. Honor a local Chinatown resident?
North end (south Delancey): focus on accessibility for the two open entryways. Leave the gardens – they are interesting and complex and tended for almost 40 years – the community has a stake in these places. Formerly a GreenThumb Garden area.
Safety in all sunken Park Areas
The Hester to Grand is almost all sunken but far more activated due to the schools, the elders, and the safety that the beehive of activity of park workers around the Hester Parkhouse creates. Still there have been issues all over the park but especially where there is no activity.
In-park local access for those without zoom/email/etc. Without it…less truly democratic.
If a viewing could happen at the CB3 Parks Committee meeting in the BRC – it would help (we’ll still try for at least one more language accessible in-park survey at Broome Street). It would mean, though, that there would be time to take those ideas into account for real.
Below: NYC Parks Scoping meeting for Sara Roosevelt Park from Grand to South Delancey Wednesday June 21, 2023 , SRPCC Draft Proposals for that section
The Invite and Our Draft Proposals:
NYC Parks Scoping meeting for SRP: Grand to South Delancey
We are thrilled to have resources coming – and thank Manhattan Commissioner Perez for moving this forward.
Attached is the invite. Below are thoughts to bear in mind along with SRPCC Draft Proposals:
– Sara Roosevelt Park Community Coalition.
Zoom meetings will preclude many neighbors that do not use zoom or email, any who are not fluent in English, or who need sign language, or those whose lives don’t lend themselves to evening weekday meetings.
Therefore, please help us reach out to neighbors, listen to them and be mindful of the outsized voices of those of us with the means, language access, time, and who are not directly impacted, etc.
We’ve listened to nearby residents, local organizations, gardeners, businesses, and sports users, we’ve sent out updates, used social media, and conducted one in-park tabling to collect ideas and to create awareness (not nearly enough). If you wish to assist that effort, let us know.
We are talking to various elected representatives who may be able to offer language access help and information inside the park for nearby tenants to avoid the displacement that comes with ‘improved’ parks. Stay tuned.
We hope for ideas that create safety, beauty, preserve this parks traditional neighborhood uses, maintain our unique strengths and our diversity, share space with new needs of our neighborhoods and the public, retain our commitment to the care of this park and our support of the Parks Department.
This park is our backyard, get-away vacation spot, and air-conditioning with a welcome to all.
We aim for upgrading for improved use and safety that does not encourage further displacement of low-income communities and/or communities of color here via gentrification!
Draft proposalsfor Sara Roosevelt Park from Grand to South Delancey.
Our proposals are always draft – as we listen, we get smarter.
-After a number of consultations with the Hua Mei birders over the years: New wrought iron fence around the bird sanctuary 5-7’ tall -north end for safety, 4’ for south section with gate so there are two means of egress in an emergency. Consult birders for any changes.
-PEP officer stationed at Hua Mei Bird area Sundays 9-ll am.
-Retain The Pit area. Fix the drainage in southern end.
-Grand St. entryway. Remove brick walls entirely along Grand Str for maximum visibility from the street ( a beautiful, inviting archway?).
-South Delancey entryway remove broken steps, create two wide ADA accessible pathways.
-Retain all four community stewarded garden plots (de Britto, Hua Mei, Ribbon, middle plot).
-Pipe a water source for the gardens here –Bruckner boxes and a water fountain.
-Restore wooden “gates” recreated by the Tenement Museum staff of the original Forysth Garden Group.
-Remove low brick walls that front the two side plots – misused.
-Widen the side ‘strips’ of green areas all along Chrystie and Forsyth as much as possible taking into account plantings that can be pruned to ensure visibility (with seating?)
-Attach round tables in the open walk-way areas in south Delancey area. Visible from street to provide seating that is visible from the street to discourage misuse.
-Redo all pathways from Delancey to Grand for ADA accessibility.
-New, brighter lighting, downward facing in the area (more effective for safety – better for birds).
-Fix the benches along the Pit.
-Do the work in sections as much as possible so sections of the park can remain open.
-Share the Broome Parkhouse with a local community organization or return it for full community activation.
-In this area of SRP ‘The Pit’ is one of the only active, versatile, and well used space (by the community): The Burmese Water Festival, the New Museum, elected officials, ROAR, badminton, Tai Chi, Bike Polo, Soccer (the soccer ‘pitch’ recently painted as an East River Park mitigation), etc. As such, The Pit use makes the area safer, as does the gardening by SRPCC volunteers and the 5th Pct’s Youth Explorers. City Relief also provides safety and resources on south Delancey on Thursdays.
-We have a synthetic turf field in this section. We are oversaturated with synthetic turf fields (used primarily by outside groups). Issues with carcinogenic materials.
-A little history further south in the Park: The Sara Roosevelt Coalition – President Annie Fredericks (of Hester Street Collaborative) for Hester Street Playground.
“This is about community preservation in a neighborhood facing displacement,” said Anne Frederick, [the ED of Hester Street Collaborative and President of the SRPCC at that time] that works on designs for public spaces, and one of the lead organizers in yesterday’s event. She said the goal was “for people to think about the park in relation to the larger community as well.”
Debra Jeffreys-Glass – Juneteenth organizer for all these years!
Ryan Gilliam FABnyc Team – Organizing for Honoring the African Burial Ground Memorial Project
Emanuel Oni – African Burial Ground Memorial Project!
Tenement Museum – All their efforts over many years.
M’Finda Kalunga Community Garden Members – and Bob Humber and Kate Fitzgerald
Music Man and band – Robert Bryan
Sara Roosevelt Park Community Coalition
Que Chevere and The Market Line
Debra and Oni Juneteenth!
Debra’s thanks to the Host M’Finda Kalunga Community Garden:
“Happy Juneteenth folks!
A big shout out to all the hands, brains, and backs that pitched in to move, clean, sweep, weed, organize, wipe down, cover up, hand out, bring in, carry over, hide under, plug in, check out, unstack, stack, haul, seek, photograph, read, create, fold, unfold….
The list goes on and on. This event has always meant so much to me and to the garden, and having such a dedicated and “all-in” crew makes this even more soul-filling.
Big ups…by name, and if I’ve forgotten someone please let me know!
– Saturday Prep team who magically transformed our patio space to a welcoming performance space: Irit, Reiner, Irasema, Bud, Jennifer, Jim, Jessica, Prince, Dave, Ana, Shweta, Shannon, Steve, Ted
– The ‘go and get stuff’ folks: Laura and Alan – picking up the food (and having to adjust when it was more than a hand-truck full!); Shweta – flowers and missing hardware; Jim C – cool cat who picked up the ice; Irasema and hubby getting the beverages to keep us all hydrated
– ‘Day of’ shenanigans: Program readers: Sam, Shweta, Jim, Jane; Food bossing like a boss: Bud and Jennifer; Book curation and organizing Jane and Shweta; last minute set dressing and band support: Ted
– fabric flag refresh team: Ana and Shannon
– Clean up crew – Dave, K, Jennifer, Bud, Ted, Ryan and Co, Jane, Jim C, our pal Maria, Irasema,
– Colleen for bringing folks in from the gate
– Hideko for lending beguiling red begonias for a little bit of set dressing on the patio
– Finally, Ace partner in crime, Ted – for all the behind the scenes work and for being the one who has to see and live with the grumpy “Ms Hyde” who comes out when Dr Jeckyll is done, done, done.
If I missed your name and your contribution, my apologies.
THANK YOU ALL.
And, next year’s event…whew, y’all… we will hopefully be unveiling the Burial Ground Memorial Project on Juneteenth. Oni will be around, periodically conducting community sessions with interested folks, so please stay tuned for that. If you want to get a sense of the “feel” of the memorial, next time you’re in the garden, go to the patio and take a look a the art work that is inspired by Oni’s project design.