Re:New Initiative Returns for 2022

May 9, 2022

Prospect Park is the place to be for our community, which is why Prospect Park Alliance, the non-profit that sustains Brooklyn’s Backyard, is continuing the Re:New Prospect Park initiative for a second year. These efforts help serve our community to meet the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic and the surge of visitors in the park.

Due to the pandemic, Prospect Park Alliance lost critical funding which resulted in a reduced workforce and resources. This combined with an increase in park visitors led to the park getting much more love than it can handle. However, thanks to the support of our community of donors and volunteers over the past two years, the park has been able to weather the storm, and the Alliance is placing much-needed funds to continue our Re:New efforts in time for our busiest season.

“Prospect Park has been so important for all of us these last two years. Our community has supported the park as volunteers, donors and advocates, and enabled us to sustain this essential green oasis,” said Prospect Park Alliance Interim President James Snow. 

“During the pandemic, it was made abundantly clear just how vital parks are to the health and wellbeing of this city,” said NYC Parks Commissioner Sue Donoghue. “As we continue to recover, our priority is to ensure that parks in all neighborhoods are clean, green and safe. We are so grateful for the support of our partners at the Prospect Park Alliance who share in our commitment through programs like the Re:New Initiative.”

Critical support for this initiative is made possible through generous funding from Amazon, and many generous individuals and community members who make annual contributions to the Alliance. Learn more about Prospect Park Alliance membership.

Re:New Prospect Park Initiatives

Park Maintenance
Prospect Park Alliance has partnered with ACE New York, a non-profit that empowers the homeless, to provide additional maintenance resources to help clean the park on peak weekdays and weekend evenings through October. In addition, the Alliance has brought on board four groundskeepers to help supplement NYC Parks maintenance crews during this busiest time of year.

The crew is partially funded via a grant from Amazon.

“Prospect Park is a local gem offering healthy outdoor recreation to Brooklyn families,” said Carley Graham Garcia, Amazon’s Head of Community Affairs in New York. “This creative initiative offers new job opportunities, while ensuring Prospect Park continues to serve our local neighborhood especially as we head into the summer months. Amazon is thrilled to renew this partnership for Summer 2022.”

To support these efforts, Prospect Park Alliance is encouraging park visitors to carry out their trash via promotional signage at all park entrances. The Alliance has also installed large trash receptacles in key areas of the park.

Park Improvements
The Alliance will continue the re-investment in the park to tackle important improvement projects through funding from our community of donors. Work will take place to improve pedestrian pathways, repair stonework at the Lakeside esplanade and locations throughout the park, install new picnic tables at the Wellhouse barbecue area, and improve drainage throughout the park—an increasingly critical tool in improving the resilience of the park against major rain and flooding events.

In 2021, the Re:New initiative successfully brought improvements to every corner of the park. The Lincoln Road comfort station received a complete makeover, new barbecues, furnishings and fixtures were installed at the popular Picnic House and Bandshell barbecue areas, new benches were added to the beloved Drummer’s Grove, and broken ornamental brickwork at the historic Boathouse terrance was repaired.

Volunteer Opportunities
Prospect Park Alliance has brought back the popular Re:New Volunteer Corps—a weekly volunteer program that tackles park improvement projects made necessary by the high volume of visitors. The crew works alongside Alliance staff to maintain playgrounds, painting over unsightly graffiti, weed areas overgrown with invasive plants and repaint park benches and railings.

In 2021, the Re:New Volunteer Corps was a great success and the crew worked on a variety of park improvement projects. Over the course of the season, they removed 2.6 tons of invasive vines and weeds; filled 250 holes on the Long Meadow; replenished all playground sandboxes; and sanded and painted 270 linear feet of hand railing, 121 benches, 46 entrance bollards, and the 10 storage containers on Center Drive.

About Prospect Park Alliance
Prospect Park Alliance is the non-profit organization that sustains, restores and advances Prospect Park, Brooklyn’s Backyard, in partnership with the City of New York. The Alliance provides critical staff and resources that keep the Park green and vibrant for the diverse communities that call Brooklyn home. Learn more at prospectpark.org. 

About Amazon
Amazon is guided by four principles: customer obsession rather than competitor focus, passion for invention, commitment to operational excellence, and long-term thinking. Customer reviews, 1-Click shopping, personalized recommendations, Prime, Fulfillment by Amazon, AWS, Kindle Direct Publishing, Kindle, Fire tablets, Fire TV, Amazon Echo, and Alexa are some of the products and services pioneered by Amazon. For more information, visit amazon.com/about and follow @AmazonNews.

About ACE
ACE was founded in 1992 and provides job-readiness training, work experience, all around support, and much more to New Yorkers who have histories of homelessness, incarceration and addiction. At ACE, men and women overcome barriers through hard work to reach their goals of full-time employment, economic self-sufficiency, and family reunification. Over 3,000 men and women have secured full-time employment through ACE’s programs. Learn more at acenewyork.org.

c. Paul Martinka

Alliance Receives Top Honor at Lucy G. Moses Awards

April 22, 2022

At the 2022 Lucy G. Moses Preservation Awards, New York Landmarks Conservancy’s highest honors for preservation, Prospect Park Alliance received a top honor—The Preservation Organization Award. The Moses Awards recognize individuals, organizations, architects, craftspeople and building owners for their extraordinary contributions to preserving our City. As noted at the ceremony, the award is in recognition of the Alliance’s excellent stewardship for the collection of historic structures and sites in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park.

Watch the 32nd Annual Lucy G. Moses Preservation Awards online.

Prospect Park Alliance, the non-profit that sustains Prospect Park in partnership with the city, has a team of architects, designers, and landscape managers who are dedicated to preserving the original vision of the park as realized by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, while evolving the park to meet contemporary needs.

Among the Alliance’s previous preservation projects are the Prospect Park Carousel, the Boathouse, the Picnic House, the Bailey Fountain and more. “In each instance, the Alliance has recognized the value of these sites to connect community and honor history,” notes the Landmarks Conservancy’s Awards materials. “They have devoted resources, used original documentation to recreate lost architectural features, and have executed these projects to the highest standards. The picturesque results delight visitors and retain the park’s historic character.”

The Alliance has received three Moses Awards for preservation projects in the past decade: the Concert Grove Reconstruction (2012), the Wellhouse (2019) and Endale Arch (2020).

Learn about more projects coming up in the park on the Alliance’s Capital Project Tracker.

Many of the members of Prospect Park Alliance’s award-winning design and construction team. Left to right, back row: Jillian Pagano, Landscape Architect II; Alden Maddry, Senior Architect; Christian Zimmerman, Vice President, Capital and Landscape Management; Amy Peck, Archivist; Robert Garcia, Assistant Landscape Architect. Left to right, front row, Assya Plavskina, Construction Supervisor—Historic Preservation; Sarena Rabinowitz, Assistant Architect. 

NYLC_042022_MOSES AWARDS

New Food + Drink Option Comes to Prospect Park

Prospect Park Alliance has announced new food and drink options coming to Prospect Park. Blank Street, a Brooklyn-based coffee company, will introduce their environmentally friendly, battery-powered carts at two locations in the park. The Bartel-Pritchard Squar Park Entrance cart will open on Monday, April 25, and the second cart, located at the  Lincoln Road Park Entrance, will open in May. The carts will offer coffee, tea, pastries and tacos, and will be open daily from 8 am to 4 pm year round.  

Each cart’s opening day will be celebrated with free coffee for the community!  

“We know that Prospect Park patrons want more food options in the park, which is why we invited proposals from vendors who could provide affordable, healthy and sustainable options for the community,” said James Snow, Prospect Park Alliance Interim President. “We are pleased to welcome two of Blank Street’s innovative carts to the park where they can be an amenity for visitors looking for a bite and a beverage with a light environmental footprint.”

Founded in Williamsburg in August 2020, Blank Street passionately believes in doing more with less – less waste, less energy – in order to invest in what matters most: offering the highest quality products at the lowest prices; providing higher wages for their team of baristas; operating with state-of-the-art coffee technology and an order-ahead mobile app; and designing their business to operate as lightly upon the earth as possible, from their carts to their cups.

The menu offers a daily selection of coffee and tea drinks and sweet and savory bites from celebrated local brands such as Parlor Coffee, King David Tacos, Pain D’Avignon, and King Street Baking Co.

In addition to Blank Street, the Alliance has brought King David Tacos to Grand Army Plaza, Smorgasburg to Breeze Hill, Bluestone Cafe to Lakeside, as well as the Mohammed Islam Hot Dog Cart to the Ballfields. WINNER Prospect Park is slated to open at the Prospect Park Picnic House in early May. Learn more about food options at prospectpark.org/food.

Elizabeth Keegin Colley

Alliance Launches Poetry Partnership with Writing the Land

February 23, 2022

Prospect Park Alliance is partnering with Writing the Land, which connects poets with land set aside for people and nature to foster collaboration between the environmental and creative communities. Prospect Park Alliance has partnered with Writing the Land to commission four poets to produce work about Prospect Park and share their work with the Brooklyn community: Black poet Rachelle Parker, and Native American poets Michaeline Picaro, Opalanietet and Ty Defoe.

This partnership is a stage for diverse voices to engage in a dialogue about the park and its history, an important part of Prospect Park Alliance’s community engagement work. The collaboration, while embracing the park as a whole, connects to the Alliance’s Re-Imagine Lefferts initiative, currently underway, which seeks to re-envision the mission and programming of the park’s historic house museum to recognize its role as a site of slavery and to elevate the voices of the enslaved Africans who lived and worked the land, and the Indigenous people that were forced to leave their ancestral lands at the time of Dutch colonization.

“Our partnership with Writing the Land fits incredibly well into the work of the Alliance,” says Maria Carrasco, the Alliance’s Vice President of Public Programs. “Poetry is empowering and the perfect vehicle for engaging our community in contemplating the viewpoints of traditionally unheard voices. The spoken word can provide members of our community with new ways of thinking, and hopefully will encourage them to actively participate in social change and civic engagement here in the park and beyond.”

“Writing the Land is excited to expand our work with traditional land trusts to more diverse organizations that protect land,” says director of Writing the Land, Lis McLoughlin, PhD. ”Prospect Park is an amazing resource for its community and beyond, and we were delighted to find they were very open to using poetry as a way to highlight the great work they do. Our poets are looking forward to building bridges between the park and those who love and use it.”

The poets will spend the next several months visiting the park and creating poems inspired by the land, which will culminate in a reading in the park in October. Prospect Park poets will be featured performers, and they will give a sneak peek of some poems they are preparing for the Writing the Land Anthology to be published in December.

From left to right: Michaeline Picaro, Opalanietet, Rachelle Parker, Ty Defoe

Michaeline Picaro is a member of the Ramapough Lunaape Nation Turtle Clan. As a traditionalist with knowledge of medicinal plants, Picaro is currently seeking to further her expertise and is enrolled at Chamberlain College to receive her nursing BSN to further assist the Turtle Clan with nursing needs and assessments. Picaro is also a co-founder of the Munsee Three Sisters Medicinal Farm which creates jobs and works toward food sovereignty. She is a co-founder of Ramapough Culture and Land Foundation, which preserves and restores the economic, social, cultural, sacred and environmental assets of the Ramapough Munsee ancestral lands.Picaro carries the Clan Mother title and is a Tribal Historic Preservation Officer for the Narragansett Indian Tribe and preservationist for ceremonial landscapes.

Opalanietet is a member of the Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape tribal nation of New Jersey.  Since graduating from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, Opalanietet has performed in workshops and productions at renowned New York theatrical institutions including New Dramatists, LaMaMa E.T.C. and New York City Opera at Lincoln Center. In 2012, Opalanietet founded Eagle Project, a theater company dedicated to exploring the American identity through the performing arts and Native American heritage. Opalanietet is currently studying for his doctorate in Theatre & Performance Studies at the City University of New York (CUNY) Graduate Center.

Rachelle Parker is a Nassawadox-born, Brooklyn-bred writer. She was selected the winner of the Furious Flower Poetry Prize, was awarded third prize in the Allen Ginsberg Poetry Award and was a finalist in Rhino Founders’ Prize. She was recognized in the Arts By The People – 2021 Moving Words. Her work appears in About Place Journal, The Adirondack Review, Taint Taint Taint Magazine and she is a contributor to the anthology The BreakBeat Poets: Black Girl Magic. Her photography also debuted in Orion Magazine.

Ty Defoe is an Indigiqueer citizen of the Oneida Nation and Anishinaabe Nations. Defoe is a writer, interdisciplinary artist, and Grammy Award winner. Defoe aspires to an “interweaving and glitterizing approach to artistic projects with liberation and environmentalism.” Defoe’s global cultural arts highlights include the Millennium celebration in Cairo, Egypt; International Music Festival in Ankara, Turkey; and Festival of World Cultures in Dubai. The artist’s accolades range from the Global Indigenous Heritage Festival Award, Jonathan Larson Award, Helen Merrill Playwriting Award 2021, and Cultural Capital Fellowship with First People’s Fund 2021.

A Message from Sue Donoghue

February 4, 2022

A message from Prospect Park Alliance President Sue Donoghue:

I am writing to you today with exciting news: Mayor Eric Adams has announced my appointment as the next New York City Parks Commissioner. 

Serving as the President of Prospect Park Alliance and Park Administrator has been one of the great honors of my career. I’ve been so lucky to work alongside so many dedicated people, from Alliance and NYC Parks staff, to our incredibly hardworking volunteers and community advocates, and a devoted Board of Directors that has provided the Alliance exceptional guidance and leadership.

I’m honored to be taking on a citywide leadership role in caring for New York City’s most essential resource, its parks and open spaces, and I will continue to cherish and support Prospect Park as a neighbor and park advocate. It has been a great privilege to steward this breathtakingly beautiful space, and serve as only the third president of this thriving, 35-years-young organization.

During this time we’ve advanced the park in numerous ways: rebounding from the challenges of the pandemic through our Re:New Prospect Park initiative; restoring the Flatbush Avenue perimeter and creating the first new entrances of the park since the 1940s; revitalizing and expanding the park’s woodlands and natural areas; bringing back to the public the exquisitely restored Endale Arch and Concert Grove Pavilion; and securing funds for our next great phase of restoration, the 26-acre Vale in the park’s northeast corner. This work has only been possible due to the support of dedicated individuals such as you.

The last two years have tested our resolve in many ways, but they have also brought into clear focus the importance of our parks and open spaces. Prospect Park has served as both a respite and a gathering space, a great green oasis for the community during these challenging times.

I look forward to continuing to work alongside you, cheering for and supporting these glorious 585 acres. Thanks to our amazing staff and experienced leadership, the Alliance is in good hands today and in the years to come, in large part due to the dedication and support of all of you, our community of park lovers.

All the best,
Sue Donoghue

c. Brittany Buongiorno

WNYC Features Alliance Animal Pro Marty Woess

January 21, 2022

In Prospect Park, Marty Woess is a familiar fixture, whether she’s working with volunteers, zooming around in her cart, or performing impressive animal rescues. Woess is the Forestry, Wildlife and Aquatic Technician for the Prospect Park Alliance, and her work was featured on WNYC’s Morning Edition in an interview with host Michael Hill, and in a related story on Gothamist by Alec Hamilton.

Listen to Woess’s interview on WNYC:

Woess’s work is part of the Alliance’s mission to sustain the environment in Prospect Park, and she works alongside the dedicated Landscape Management team. These workers monitor the health of the park’s aquatic and woodland areas, look after more than 30,000 trees, and strategically care for the park’s natural habitats.

Prospect Park is 585 acres of rolling meadows, waterways and woodlands in the heart of New York’s most populous borough—and receives upwards of 10 million visits a year. Prospect Park also is home to Brooklyn’s only lake and last remaining forest, and is an important wildlife habitat that supports more than 250 species of birds and other fauna.

In her interview, Woess stresses the importance for proper park stewardship in order to keep the park wildlife safe, “Be responsible. Take your trash out with you. If you’re a fisherman, please do it responsibly. You need to clear up your line and your hooks. Make sure you have the right hooks, the legal hooks. It’s about taking responsibility for your actions in a park and cleaning up after yourself.”

If you see an animal in need in Prospect Park, please call 311. Learn more about our work and how you can help sustain Prospect Park’s environment. 

Marty Woess rescuing a racoon in Prospect Park. c. Marty Woess.

C. M. Pinckney/NYC Parks

Mayor de Blasio Announces Historic $40 Million To Restore The Vale

December 16, 2021

Today, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a historic $40 million allocation to restore the Vale in Prospect Park. This funding is the largest single allocation in the history of Prospect Park Alliance, the non-profit that sustains the park in partnership with the city, and will restore important landscapes within the 26 acres in the northeast corner of the park called the Vale. The Mayor was joined by NYC Parks Commissioner Gabrielle Fialkoff and Iris Weinshall, Chair, and Sue Donoghue, President of Prospect Park Alliance, and community leaders. 

Learn more information about the Vale restoration, and our extensive community outreach to develop this vision for the Vale.

“Prospect Park is Brooklyn’s backyard,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “It’s where I got married and raised my family, and where New Yorkers of all backgrounds come to spend time in nature. This historic $40 million in funding will ensure the Vale is restored to its full glory.” 

“On behalf of Prospect Park Alliance, we would like to thank Mayor de Blasio for his leadership and vision in advancing Prospect Park, Brooklyn’s Backyard, for the millions of New Yorkers the park serves every year. His support of this important restoration, in addition to the Grand Army Plaza arch and berms, and other projects, will be a lasting legacy in Prospect Park, and one that all New Yorkers can celebrate,” said Iris Weinshall, Board Chair, Prospect Park Alliance.

“Prospect Park Alliance was founded over 30 years ago to sustain, restore and advance the park for the entire Brooklyn community. Today, through this historic funding allocation from the Mayor, we will be able to realize the community’s vision for the 26 acres in the northeast corner of the park. Since its founding, the Alliance has restored significant landscapes in the park, from the 150-acre woodland Ravine to the 26 acres in the southeast corner of the park, Lakeside and the LeFrak Center. It is critical to advance this work to make the park fully accessible and welcoming for our community,” said Sue Donoghue, President, Prospect Park Alliance.

 “’How wonderful, how beautiful, when the community comes together…’ On many levels, this paraphrasing of a portion of Psalm 133 seems to encapsulate my experience as a civic leader and leader of a faith community, as I participated in the re-imagining of the ‘Rose Garden.’ Of equal importance is the funding for the restoration of the ‘Vale’ area of the park. This funding is truly an expression of commitment to making this park a park for all,” said Reverend Sheldon N.N. Hamblin, Rector, St. Paul’s Church in the Village of Flatbush, who participated in the community outreach effort that is guiding the Vale Restoration.

Conceptual Site Plan for Vale Restoration. c. Prospect Park Alliance

The Vale Restoration

The $40 million in capital funding from the Mayor will help to restore two historic landscapes: the Children’s Pool and the park’s former Rose Garden. 

Conceptual Rendering of the Vale Restoration. c. Prospect Park Alliance

The former Rose Garden has served many functions since the park opened in 1867. It was originally a Children’s Playground, complete with the park’s first, horse-driven carousel, and then became a formal Rose Garden at the turn of the 19th century. With the opening of the Brooklyn Botanic Garden in 1911, the Rose Garden eventually fell into disrepair and the rose beds were removed. In 2017, Prospect Park Alliance, which sustained this landscape of the park for many decades, embarked on an intensive community outreach initiative, Reimagine Prospect Park, to create a new vision for this landscape, working with Hester Street and Grain Collective to engage over 2,000 community members. Through this process, the team identified several possible amenities for this area of the park, including a pollinator meadow and rustic arbor; a nature play area for families; and a landscaped amphitheater and small building with flexible gathering space and restrooms for the community’s enjoyment. With funding now in place, Prospect Park Alliance and NYC Parks will embark on the design process in early 2022, and the Alliance will partner again with Hester Street to engage the community in the process.

Conceptual rendering of the proposed Vale Restoration. c. Prospect Park Alliance

The site of the historic Children’s Pool  originally featured a small pond where children sailed miniature boats, surrounded by ornamental trees and shrubs. In the 19th century the Brooklyn Eagle described this spot as a “bird’s paradise,” which still holds true today.  In the 1890s, the renowned architects McKim, Mead and White replaced the pond’s soft edge with a formal marble and granite balustrade. Nicknamed the “Vale of Cashmere” after a Thomas Moore poem, it became famous for its lush, colorful foliage. Red-brick walkways, lights and benches were added in the 1960s, and in recent decades it has fallen into a state of disrepair but has remained an oasis for birds, which will remain a focus in the restoration.

The restoration of the Vale is the centerpiece of several restoration projects that have been achieved in recent years in this corner of the park. This includes the Flatbush Avenue Perimeter restoration through funding from Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams and Majority Leader Laurie Cumbo, and the creation of two new entrances to this area of the park, the first since the 1940s, through Mayor de Blasio’s Parks without Borders initiative. Other improvements to the area include the restoration of woodland areas severely impacted by Hurricane Sandy and other recent storms through funding from the National Park Service and the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation; restoration of the pathways and lighting to the area through funding from the Mayor; and the award-winning restoration of Endale Arch

Design of the Vale Restoration is slated to begin in 2022, and the project will proceed through the New York City Parks design and construction guidelines, which includes a year for design, a year for procurement, and 12-18 months for construction.

Conceptual rendering of the proposed Vale Restoration. c. Prospect Park Alliance