A vacant lot on Columbia Street is now the “urban meadow.”
Several years in the making, a storefront-sized parcel of land at the corner of Van Brunt and President streets has been transformed into a grassy field dotted with wildflowers and a grove of dogwood trees.
“This site has a long history of trying to be something,” said Julie Farris, who lives on Sackett Street and was instrumental in creating the community space.
That struggle began in the 1970s when an infamous city sewer line project around Columbia Street wrecked some building foundations, causing several homes to collapse. The city bought several of the damaged properties, including a Catholic church and chapel that are now the site of Mother Cabrini Park, named for the Italian saint who worked in the late 19th century near the present-day meadow.
Over the years, there had been talk of new condos or a parking lot on the site, but nothing ever happened.
The meadow, built for $40,000, has convinced area residents that the page has turned on the tortured local history.
“It’s a good use of the site. You’re giving something back,” said Celia Cacace. “People will use it.”