A Kensington resident’s letter advocating for weekday use of Green-Wood Cemetery’s additional entrances garnered more than 100 signatures, prompting cemetery officials to agree to open all four gates to fresh air-seekers amid the current outbreak.
“We have adjusted the open hours for our Gates to accommodate those of you seeking a place to enjoy art, history, and nature while practicing precautions to reduce the spread of coronavirus,” read an April 1 statement on the cemetery’s website.
On March 14, local resident Caroline Loomis penned a letter to Green-Wood Cemetery, Sunset Park Councilman Carlos Menchaca and Park Slope Councilman Brad Lander asking that more entrances be opened to accommodate quarantined visitors. Loomis sent her letter four days later, along with 125 signatures and messages of gratitude from neighbors.
“I heard back two days later from Green-Wood with a really positive response,” Loomis told Brooklyn Paper. “They said that the kind and supportive notes people included in the letter were wonderful to read, and that they were working on a way to make it happen.”
While the cemetery typically keeps only its main entrance on Fifth Avenue and 25th Street in Greenwood Heights and its Sunset Park entrance at Fourth Avenue and 35th Street open on weekdays, it will now operate all four of its gates to allow for an easier flow of people in and out of the space during the pandemic.
Its other entrances at Prospect Park West and 20th Street in Windsor Terrace and Fort Hamilton Parkway and Micieli Place in Kensington will now be open from 11 am to 7 pm on weekdays and will remain open from 8 am to 7 pm on weekends. Its Fifth Avenue entrance will remain open from 7 am to 7 pm daily, and its Fourth Avenue entrance from 8 am to 7 pm daily.
Extending use of the Fort Hamilton Parkway Entrance will provide greater access to Kensington residents who either have a 10-block trek to the main entrance or might take a subway to one of the borough’s more transit-accessible green spaces such as Sunset Park or Prospect Park, Loomis said.
“For those of us living by the Fort Hamilton Parkway entrance to the cemetery, the nearest large parks are quite a long walk or require taking public transit,” Loomis said. “During this time of social distancing, it seems more important than ever to have as much open space as possible available to New Yorkers.”
She spoke of the significance of Green-Wood Cemetery as a place of refuge for those who may need some psychological relief from all the stress that has come with the outbreak of the novel coronavirus.
“COVID-19 is having, and will continue to have, real psychological and emotional impacts on everyone. It’s a drop in the bucket, but I think more access to green space will benefit many people,” Loomis said. “Fresh air, quiet rustling leaves, blooming flowers — this stuff is medicine for us when sadness, fear, and stress are running high.”
Governor Andrew Cuomo ordered the city close all of its playgrounds on Wednesday after city dwellers were consistently failing to keep six feet from one another, he said, but parks remain open for the time being to give New Yorkers some space to breathe.