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Community Weighs In on Future of Rose Garden

June 13, 2017

On a recent Saturday afternoon, Prospect Park Alliance gathered Brooklynites of all ages in the Prospect Park Boathouse to reimagine the Park’s Rose Garden. Suggestions, written on colorful cards and placed in a 3D model of the space, ranged from the practical—bathrooms and event spaces—to the fanciful—outdoor kitchens and trampolines!

Interested in sharing your vision for the Rose Garden? Take our survey!

This community visioning session was an opportunity for Park lovers to share their ideas for the Rose Garden, one of the Park's hidden gems. Prospect Park Alliance is working with Hester Street Collaborative, a non-profit organization focused on improving the physical environment in underserved NYC neighborhoods to engage the community in the future vision for the Rose Garden—the first step in the Alliance's plans to restore this landscape in the Park's northeast corner.

The 2.5-acre landscape is tucked away in the northeast corner of Prospect Park in a heavily wooded area that is surrounded by steep hillsides. The area was originally designed by Park creators Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux as a Children's Playground, complete with play equipment and a horse-driven carousel. In 1885, as part of the City Beautiful Movement, the landscape was transformed into a rose garden, featuring beautiful flowering trees and plants, and three pools with goldfish and lilypads. Over the years, the area fell into disuse. A 1960s attempt to restore the pools was unsuccessful, and the area has gone largely unnoticed and underused—until now.

"Since its founding, Prospect Park Alliance has been focused on renewing the Park for the enjoyment of all of Brooklyn," said Sue Donoghue, president of Prospect Park Alliance. "Through this innovative community engagement process, we are looking to involve all of the diverse communities that consider the Park 'Brooklyn's Backyard' in the future vision of this corner of the Park, one of the few remaining landscapes untouched by restoration."

During the June 10 design workshop, visitors of all ages were asked to give their opinion of what should occupy the Rose Garden. Interactive models of the 2.5-acre space filled up quickly with idea-covered stickers, and over 40 attendees participated in a visioning activity to discuss the potential opportunities with members of their community. At the end of the event, Turnstile Tours, which operates walking tours throughout the Park, brought participants to the Rose Garden to learn about the history of the space, and see it firsthand. Dozens of suggestions were collected as a result of the event, and popular suggestions included an outdoor classroom, a flower garden and a cafe.

The project is possible thanks to the generous support of the Altman Foundation. “The Altman Foundation—which celebrated its centennial in 2013—has an historic interest in ensuring that individuals and families living in the city have access to resources that help them thrive, and we believe that well-maintained parks and open spaces are critical to the well-being of each of us and New York as a whole,” said Deborah T. Velazquez, Associate Director at the Altman Foundation.  “Projects like these that allow local stakeholders to be engaged in planning that shapes how capital is deployed lead to strong results, and help long-standing institutions remain vibrant and dynamic.”

The Alliance is looking to gather input from a wide variety of communities that border the Park and use the Park regularly. Over the course of the summer and fall, the Alliance and Hester Street Collaborative will be reaching out to the community in a variety of settings to help determine the future design of this space. In the month of July, a community art project—The Connective Project—will bring an immersive art installation to the area. During that time, July 7-17, the public will be able to give input on the future of the Rose Garden. 

Want to make your voice heard? Learn how you can get involved in this Rose Garden planning process.