Vale Restoration Moves Forward

August 17, 2023

Prospect Park Alliance, the non-profit that sustains the park in partnership with the city, announced the successful conclusion of the public review process for the restoration of the Vale in the northeast corner of Prospect Park, with approval by the New York City Public Design Commission. This is the capstone of a multi-year outreach and design process which engaged thousands of local community members in reenvisioning this landscape. In 2021, former Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a historic $40 million allocation to restore the Vale, the largest single capital allocation in the city budget in the history of Prospect Park Alliance.

The Vale comprises eight acres in the heart of the northeast corner of Prospect Park. Through the community outreach and design process to gather public input for the landscape, the Alliance’s award-winning team of architects and landscape architects have designed a space for nature exploration, intergenerational gathering and quiet reflection.

“Prospect Park Alliance has an award-winning history of historic restoration and woodland preservation,” said Morgan Monaco, President of Prospect Park Alliance. “This design is reflective of the talent of our team, the deep engagement with our community, and the future we hope to steward in Prospect Park. We are delighted to move forward bringing this vision into reality, and we thank the community members who contributed their feedback through this process, transforming an idea into a fully designed concept.”Vale Rendering Approved Design 2023 Childrens Pond Balustrade View

Above: The restoration of the Children’s Pond  will bring back historic details while improving the environment. c. Prospect Park Alliance. At top: A view of the Pollinator Meadow from the Arbor, part of the approved design for the Vale. c. Prospect Park Alliance

The Vale restoration transforms two key landscapes: the historic Children’s Pond (a decorative water feature) and a former Rose Garden, and also encompasses an additional 3 acres of woodland restoration that will continue an important pollinator corridor across the park. The restoration of the Children’s Pond will bring back historic details while improving the environment through new plantings and bird-friendly features. The former Rose Garden, which features three disused concrete basins, will be transformed into three connected landscapes that respect the park’s historic design while restoring the woodland landscape and adding new amenities, including: a pollinator garden and planted rustic arbor; a children’s natural exploration area; and a shady picnicking lawn next to a small pavilion with composting restrooms and a sheltered area for community use.

To shape the vision for the Vale, the Alliance collaborated with the public design consultants Hester Street and Grain Collective in an intensive, two-year community outreach process that began in  2017. The broad themes that emerged from public feedback were to preserve the woodland character of the space, provide opportunities for intergenerational play and enhance park amenities. In 2022, the Alliance returned to the community to share this vision prior to embarking on the design, soliciting feedback from park users and local groups. As a result of this feedback, the pavilion was scaled down and set further into the landscape; three additional acres of woodland restoration were incorporated to further strengthen wildlife habitat and extend the park’s pollinator corridor; and additional fencing was incorporated to ensure that the children’s natural exploration area does not spill over onto adjacent landscapes and woodland areas.

The resulting design was approved by surrounding community boards 8 and 9; the Prospect Park Community Committee, the Brooklyn Borough Board, the Landmarks Preservation Commission and Public Design Commission. The design also received letters of support from I AM CARIBBEING, the Natural Areas Conservancy, the Park Slope Civic Council, the Prospect Heights Neighborhood Development Council, the Prospect Lefferts Garden Neighborhood Association,  the Brooklyn Borough President, and Council Members Shahana Hanif,  Crystal Hudson and Rita Joseph.

A view of the planned Northeast Pavilion, part of the approved Vale Restoration design. c. Prospect Park Alliance

The project will conclude its design phase in Spring 2024, and will proceed through the NYC Parks capital guidelines, which includes a year for procurement and 12-18 months for construction, which is slated to begin in Spring 2025.

“An urban park really needs to balance these uses for humans, plants, birds and animals,” said Public Design Commissioner Isabel Castilla. “I have seen the evolution of this design through its many iterations in the past few months and I would say [the plan]…is a very thoughtful design that provides a space for people…and also creates boundaries so that nature can have its own space.”

The Natural Exploration Area in the Vale will include natural features that engage the imagination and the senses. c. Prospect Park Alliance

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 and the creation of two new entrances to this area of the park, the first new entrance since the 1940s. Other improvements to the area include the restoration of woodland areas severely impacted by Hurricane Sandy and other recent storms; the restoration of the pathways and lighting to the area; and the award-winning restoration of Endale Arch.