The Hort is dedicated to sustaining a robust network of neighborhood plaza managers to maintain clean, safe and vibrant public spaces across New York City while promoting the economic, social, environmental, and quality of life benefits of neighborhood plazas to New York’s civic, business, and philanthropic communities; the media; and elected officials.
Parkside Plaza, a cozy Prospect-Lefferts Garden corner on Ocean and Parkside Avenues, has drastically transformed over the past two years. The renewal is rooted in The Hort’s vision for each space: a beautiful, functional, and publicly managed green space where the community can relax and engage with one another. More broadly: a great spot to sit.
This summer, the growth and transformation of the previously derelict, forgotten patch of concrete continued. The all-volunteer plaza management group, The Parkside Committee, hosted three major events or “plaza activations”: a celebration of the Plaza’s 1-year anniversary, an African Drumming & Dance festival, and a Community Resource Fair, which highlighted housing information, pre-K offerings, and voter registration. Thousands of people participated in each event, while hundreds more flocked to the newly founded Sunday farmer’s market.
At the Hort, we know that big events are only part of the equation for a successful plaza. We know that it is day-in, day-out maintenance that brings lasting change to a neighborhood and over time creates a true asset. A clean, well-maintained plaza sends an unmistakable message that investment is happening. For Parkside, that investment is the time, money, and sweat equity from the community stewards.
To make the volunteer investment sustainable and worthwhile, the GreenTeam and the Association of Community Employment (ACE) arrive every morning to unlock and arrange tables and chairs, raise the umbrellas, and remove litter — reversing those tasks each evening. The work crews also plant season-specific flowers, bringing new, lush color to the Q-Train “greyscape”. The positive response has led the scope of the project to expand as the Parkside Committee guided the renewal of half a dozen tree pits on the nearby streets.
Parkside Plaza has been one of the many successes from New York’s Plaza Program. Our hope is that everyone is able to visit a plaza, engage in with the community, pull up a chair, and relax. Or as Ike Rosen, a Prospect-Lefferts Garden resident, stated on the Parkside Plaza Facebook page, “I’ve never been to the farmers market, but as a mobility-challenged resident of the neighborhood, I appreciate the seating area available when out shopping.”
Learn more about the Hort’s GreenTeam and Neighborhood Plaza Partnership at www.thehort.org