Groundbreaking $15.5 Million Project To Expand And Revamp Montefiore Square In Harlem

The NYC Department of Transportation (DOT), NYC Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), NYC Department of Parks and Recreation (Parks)

and NYC Department of Design and Construction (DDC) joined Council Member Mark Levine, State Senator Robert Jackson, the Montefiore Neighborhood Park Association and Community Board 9 today.

The joined forces to announce a $15.5 million capital project that will revamp Montefiore Square in upper Manhattan and expand the area into the space that is currently occupied by Hamilton Place between Broadway and West 138th Street in Harlem.

The project, which is anticipated to be completed in summer 2020, will almost triple the size of Montefiore Square. The redesigned area will have a central terraced 1,500-square-yard lawn with over 200 feet of curved granite walls and 19 benches for seating. The new, expanded plaza space will enable the Parks Department to stage enhanced community festivals, performances and green markets, while residents of the community will stroll through the Square on new cobblestone pavers set in a concentric running bond arc pattern. Evening visibility will be increased with eight additional street lights.

“The award-winning redesign and expansion of Montefiore Square Park is truly going to be transformative to the growing vibrancy of West Harlem,” said Council Member Mark Levine. “Montefiore Square Park has long served as an important central point for the surrounding communities who use the park but has lacked the investment to keep up with the park’s importance to West Harlem. Today, as we begin this long-standing project, the importance of this unique community-space will be fully recognized, and this neighborhood will finally have a beautiful functional park that can serve as a cornerstone for the community.”

“Functional parks are so important to the communities they serve,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “Congratulations to all involved in the redesign of Montefiore Park and Plaza—I can’t wait to see the finished product.”

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“I’m excited for Montefiore Square to be revamped. It is so important for the city to be investing in communities that have long been marginal, and West Harlem has deserved this upgrade for a while,” said State Senator Robert Jackson. “I thank Council Member Mark Levine for his efforts to secure funding and to the designers for their sensitive and sophisticated design worthy of this neighborhood.”

“A sign of a prosperous community isn’t the number of condos is has, nor the number of expensive shops. The sign of a prosperous community is the boisterous laughter of children who can run and play without fear or worry,” said Assemblywoman Inez E. Dickens. “Or where our precious commodities, our seniors, can sit and enjoy stories of what was and what may be. This can only be achieved with the creation of parks and open space, such as what we have at Montefiore Park Plaza. I congratulate New York City Department of Design and Construction Commissioner Lorraine Grillo for their part in revitalizing not only a community but the opportunity for bringing out the best what this neighborhood means for the people who call it home.”

“On behalf of the Montefiore Park Neighborhood Association and the children, parents and fellow residents of the greater Hamilton Heights / West Harlem community, we are delighted that the award-winning redesign by Landscape Architect Thomas Balsley is finally underway at Montefiore Park and will rapidly head towards completion,” said Montefiore Neighborhood Park Association Volunteer Coordinator Michael Palma. “Thank you to NYC Parks, DOT, and all the City agencies involved for their outstanding contributions whose generous efforts in seeking the very best for our Montefiore Park and the surrounding neighborhood have made all the difference. The care, dedication and thoughtfulness demonstrated through their actions, leads the way for us to believe in, and to boldly rethink all that Montefiore Park and our neighborhood can be.”

“The expansion of Montefiore Square requires relocating and upgrading much of the subsurface infrastructure that provides critical services to the residents and businesses in the neighborhood – including water mains, sewers and catch basins,” said DEP Commissioner Vincent Sapienza. “We are pleased to work with community groups, elected officials and our partner agencies to deliver a new Montefiore Square that will be a terrific community amenity.”

“We are thrilled to partner with DDC, DOT, and DEP to transform Montefiore Square into a more seamless and welcoming public space that extends into the surrounding neighborhood,” said Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver. “With a new lawn surrounded by benches, trees, and pathways, the expanded plaza will serve as a vibrant gathering place for the community.”

“The community and the students of the nearby Hamilton Grange School and City College of New York will soon have another great space to gather and spend time in their neighborhood,” said DDC Commissioner Lorraine Grillo. “We work with our sponsor agencies throughout the City to reclaim space for pedestrians and this park expansion project will help revitalize the neighborhood while calming traffic, which aligns with the Mayor’s Vision Zero goals.”

“DOT’s Plaza Program is a key part of the City’s effort to ensure that all New Yorkers live within a 10-minute walk of quality open space,” said DOT Manhattan Borough Commissioner Ed Pincar. “We thank our sister agencies at DDC, DEP, and NYC Parks and are happy to work together to break ground on Montefiore Plaza, which will soon be another signature public space uptown.”

Almost 80 new trees will fill the space and new-planted areas along the perimeter of the expanded Square will act as buffers for users from the busy surrounding streets. The plaza will also feature new gardens, along with new plumbing and a drinking fountain. New wayfinding signage will help commuters and tourists navigate the area.

Improvements to the underground infrastructure in the area began three years ago, replacing over 3,000 feet of old water mains. Construction in the area surrounding the park also began in fall 2016 to improve water infrastructure reliability, approximately 1,000 feet of trunk water mains and 2,100 feet of water mains will be replaced. To reduce flooding, two catch basins will be replaced and seven additional catch basins will be installed. Fire protection will also be enhanced with the replacement of eight old fire hydrants. The infrastructure upgrades in the area surrounding Montefiore Square are anticipated to be completed at the end of this fall.

The project was honored at the Public Design Commission’s 33rd Annual Awards for Excellence in Design.

The Department of Design and Construction is the City’s primary capital construction project manager. In supporting Mayor de Blasio’s long-term vision of growth, sustainability, resiliency, equity and healthy living, DDC provides communities with new or renovated public buildings such as firehouses, libraries, police precincts, and new or upgraded roads, sewers and water mains in all five boroughs. To manage this $14 billion portfolio, DDC partners with other City agencies, architects and consultants, whose experience bring efficient, innovative and environmentally-conscious design and construction strategies to City projects. For more information, please visit nyc.gov/ddc.

Photo credit: 1) (left to right) DEP Deputy Commissioner of Public Affairs & Communications Michael DeLoach; DDC First Deputy Commissioner Jamie Torres-Springer; Montefiore Neighborhood Park Association Volunteer Coordinator Michael Palma; Montefiore Neighborhood Park Association Volunteer Coordinator Basia Nikonorow; State Senator Robert Jackson; Council Member Mark Levine; Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver; Borough President’s Director of Northern Manhattan Athena Moore; NYPD 30th Precinct Commanding Officer and Deputy Inspector Lourdes Soto; DOT Manhattan Borough Commissioner Ed Pincar; Harlem Community Development Corporation former Director of Planning and Development Tom Lunke and Community Board 9 Chair Barry Weinberg joined together to break ground on the new project to redesign and expand Montefiore Square. 2) An artist’s rendering of the redesigned Montefiore Square. 3) Rendering of the park and plaza facing Broadway, the central terraced 1,500-square-yard lawn will have over 200-feet of curved granite walls for seating and will divert storm water runoff from the local combined sewer system.

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