Parks and Recreation

BPC Community Garden Takes Root, Again

Battery Park City’s Liberty Community Garden is planted next to West Street, an eight-lane highway. (Photo courtesy of Downtown Express & Terese Loeb Kreuzer)

by Terese Loeb Kreuzer
Downtown Express

Flooded with sunlight, Battery Park City’s Liberty Community Garden, just south of Albany Street at the edge of Route 9A, is a mosaic of color and homey touches. There are currently 38 plots with around 60 gardeners (the larger plots are shared). One person has erected a trellis with a wooden sign that reads, “Welcome to my garden.” Several plots have birdbaths and decorative stones and bricks demarcate the flower and vegetable patches in others.

It has been just a little over a year since the garden was moved to its present location from a space near the intersection of Rector Place and West Street. West Thames Park and its playground now occupy the garden’s former space.

Liberty Community Garden has a history as rich as the compost that nourishes its organically tended plants.

“The gardens were started in the1980s, as a way to provide [Battery Park City] residents with a chance to ‘get their hands dirty’ and commune with nature,” said Michael McCormack, one of the garden’s five directors and an attorney by profession. “We are lucky to benefit from the support of, and horticultural guidance of the Battery Park City Parks Conservancy.”

Luck was not always on the side of the gardeners, however. After the Sept. 11, 2001 attack on the World Trade Center, the garden, which was then south of its present site, was knee-deep in debris. A newspaper account of that time quoted McCormack as saying, “I came out to look at my garden and everything was coated with three to four inches of gray dust.”

The plots closest to the World Trade Center were completely destroyed. A more southerly section was salvaged. Gardeners from the Battery Park City Parks Conservancy removed ash from the plants by hand.

Compost was needed but composting supplies had been decimated. In a gesture that is still remembered by the Battery Park City gardeners with great emotion, gardeners from Seattle, Wash. made compost from a million flowers that had been left at a vigil for those who died on 9/11 and transported the compost to Battery Park City. In September 2002, the Liberty Community Garden was rededicated with two Seattle City Council members in attendance along with gardeners from both cities.

Several times thereafter, the gardeners had to move. “Our former location was taken over for the ‘temporary’ Rector Place bridge,” McCormack recalled. (That bridge is still there, well past the time when it was slated to come down.) Fortunately, the Board of Managers of 200 Rector Place offered the gardeners the use of some land next to their building. Then, in October 2009, the gardeners had to pack up their plants and move them again to make way for the playground.

The New York State Department of Transportation held the plants over the winter until they could be moved again to their current home.

“The new gardens are wonderful,” said McCormack. “The sunlight is better, the soil is perfect, and the pathways are lined with stone chips, which have proven better at weed control than woodchips, and are easier on the knees. More sun means a much greater variety of plants can be grown, and many gardeners have increased the number and variety of vegetables they grow…A wider variety of flowers can be grown as well. The new gardens are more visible to visitors and the community, and it is rare that passer-bys don’t stop and chat with gardeners.”

The community within the garden has also flourished. Last summer, Miriam Kimmelman, one of the directors of the garden, was quite ill. “Alison [Simko] quietly put out the word,” Kimmelman recalled. “My plot was regularly watered, weeded and even enhanced with some new plantings. I didn’t get over to look at the plot until October, when I could walk that far.”

One of Kimmelman’s friends from the garden even planted tulip bulbs and crocuses to surprise her in the spring.

McCormack said that once the “temporary” bridge at Rector Place comes down, there would be another 20 plots. That isn’t likely to happen any time soon, but in the meantime, for various reasons, there is some turnover.

Read more from Downtown Express.

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Residents Not Happy with Plans to Bring Half Marathon Back to BPC

Runners in last year's NYC Half-Marathon race down the final stretch along the West Side Highway. The race ends in Battery Park City, where residents say it is too disruptive. (Photo Courtesy of New York Road Runners &

The plans for a half marathon that is scheduled to bring 10,000 runners plus spectators and support personnel into Battery Park City on March 20 met a chilly reception from Community Board 1’s Battery Park City Committee at its monthly meeting on February 1. The event, now in its sixth year, is sponsored by New York Road Runners.

“While I think the Half Marathon is wonderful and the Road Runners do a great job, this is not something I would support,” said committee member Anthony Notaro. “I would recommend that this committee turn this down.” This view was echoed by others on the committee.

As it did last year, the course for the race will start in Central Park and then go through Times Square and 42nd Street, where the runners will head to West Street and a finish line just north of Chambers Street. Then the runners are slated to head west on Chambers Street into Battery Park City. They would be directed to River Terrace, and from there to North Cove, where there would be post-race ceremonies and refreshments.

Read more from Downtown Express.

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Security Screening For Statue of Liberty Leaving BPC

For years the lines and security for Liberty Island have found their home in Battery Park and now they are working to resolve the issue and return the park to an actual park. One idea is to keep the metal detectors on Ellis Island and screen visitors there. While a decision will not be made for at least six months on the move of the security, the National Park Service plans to remove the big baracades at the entrance and all across the park and replace them with ropes similar to those you would find at a movie theatre. Hopefully, this will help make the park feel more like a park again. You can read the full story from here.

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Skating Rink In Battery Park

The W New York Downtown’s 5th floor terrace will be the newest host to ice skaters this season. They have build a small 12-foot-by-40-foot rink on the terrace which overlooks World Trade Center construction. It will be much smaller than the previous year’s 17,000-square-foot BPC rink but it will at least be a place to go ice skating locally. The rink will be open now through February. Read here for more information.

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New BPC Street Art

Art comes in a new formate in Battery Park City this week. Architect Audrey Matlock completed an eight-year project working on the lighting and visual effect of a man hole in Battery Park City. You can see more photos and read the full story by Curbed here.

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Dancing at All Ages in Battery Park City

If you thought dancing was fro the those in their 20’s and 30’s at trendy lounges long after happy hour, think again. Hallmark, Battery Park City’s senior residence has a Tuesdays at 4pm standing dance rehearsal. The class, which ranges in age from 86 to 100 move throughout the room to a lively beat with a smile. The group recently preformed at the 400-seat auditorium of the Museum of Jewish Heritage under the instruction of their teacher Whitney Bryant, 31. The women were all dolled up and the men dressed to impress. Dance taken to a whole new level. You can see more photos and read the full story here.

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Open Air Yoga in BPC

Open Air Yoga is excited to once again bring yoga out into the open air, into the great green spaces of New York City. Breathe, strengthen, laugh, get inspired. The summer season is short and the weather dictates the schedule, so take advantage of these outdoor practices while you can. Each class includes a take-home delicious, refreshing juice! Classes held every Monday and Wednesday.

For more info, or to learn about our Central Park classes, visit (See website for map) You can read more here.

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Downtown Mark Twain Walking Tour

Did you know that this year would be Mark Twain’s 175th birthday? Join in for a Mark Twain walking tour or his special birthday tours here Tours start Bdway and Spring St., on the southeast corner (in front of the Gap store). Walks take place at 1 p.m., Sats. and Suns., through Nov. 28. The “Mark Twain’s New York” birthday tour happens at 1 p.m. on Tues., Nov. 30. What a great idea if you are looking for something fun and out of the ordinary to do on the weekend. Thanks to downtownexpress for this story.

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Battery Place Market

Battery Park City welcomes the new Battery Place Market at Third Street and Battery Place. The market will shelve only organic, locally grown and mostly rare or hard to find brands. The market will have 4,00sq feet of prepared foods made with only organic or locally grown products which will be nice for quick on-the-go meals. You can read more about the new Battery Place Market here.

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Battery Park City Booming Ahead

Yet again Battery Park City has been mentioned as leading the Manhattan in the path out of the recession. With more population growth than any of the other five boroughs and visibly seeing construction in the area to support the growing population, it is no wonder that the area has become so popular. BPC has almost double it population since Sept. 11, 2001 and as a result we have started to see amenities and neccisities pop up all around to support all the new neighbors. One new school, PS 276 has opened and another school is in the works. The newest addition to the NY Public Library group opened in Battery Park City and Liberty Luxe and Liberty Green are the newest residential buildings in the area. You can read more on the remarks about BPC from Sheldon Silver here.

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