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Shore will be nice: City greenlights revamp of Shore Road Park

The “nature concept” would highlight the park’s local ecology and include an new “Hub” building that would serve as an educational space with exhibits, a visitor center, or a mini-botanical garden.
Nelson, Pope, and Voorhies

They’re calling it the “Shore Line.”

Park boosters plan to give a dilapidated stretch of Shore Road Park a multi-million-dollar makeover to bring the Bay Ridge park back to its ecological and historical roots — and take design cues from Manhattan’s famed “High Line” — said the president of the group behind the project.

“The plan is to replace all those overgrown weeded areas with indigenous plants — like the High Line — that are low maintenance,” said Charles Fasano. “And to make it a space people want to be and that relates to the neighborhood.”

Volunteer group the Shore Road Parks Conservancy has dubbed the project the Shore Line, and hired environmental planners Nelson, Pope, and Voorhies to rethink the parkland from 80th to 88th streets, but eventually hopes to renovate all the way to 97th Street.

The Parks Department green-lighted the massive undertaking earlier this month and granted special status to the conservancy so it can directly hire a contractor, cutting out the middleman and shortening the timeline. The group aims to break ground by 2018, but is currently grappling with the design.

The crux of the revamp is uprooting forested areas overwhelmed with invasive species and planting natural flora, such as meadows of wildflowers and arbors of oaks. But landscape ecologists have envisioned three main concepts that could be mix-and-matched.

The “plaza concept” would spruce up the existing public square and construct a new space dedicated to when the nabe was known as “Irishtown” — where Irish and Scandinavians settled starting in the late 1700s, according to design records.

Woodland would be restored to an oak forest, and the walkway along the ball fields would be revamped with seats to serve as outdoor classrooms for neighboring schools. And a long meadow would overlook the narrows with plenty of seating to soak up the view, according to design plans.

The “plaza concept” would spruce up the existing public square and revamp the walkway along the ball fields with seats to serve as outdoor classrooms for neighboring schools.
Nelson, Pope, and Voorhies

Alternatively, the “nature concept” is dedicated to the park’s local ecology and preserving it through education. The biggest change would be the “Hub,” a building that would serve as an educational space with exhibits, a visitor center, or as a mini-botanical garden of sorts, plans from the design firm show.

Lastly, what’s called the “street concept” would rearrange the benches along Shore Road with some facing into the neighborhood and add tables to create gathering spaces. Under this design, the Irishtown plaza would be an open space to accommodate a farmer’s market, food trucks, or sports such as bocce, croquet, and possibly even a skate park, according to design records.

Local artists’ work is peppered throughout the concepts and would be geared toward the ecology and history of the nabe, according to Fasano.

A timeline of Bay Ridge would run through the park with the first plaza dedicated to Giovanni Verrazzano arriving on the Dauphine in 1524, then celebrating the area’s rich history as New Amsterdam and during the Revolutionary War, then its gradual shaping into the Bay Ridge of today.

The Shore Road Parks Conservancy’s network of volunteers would maintain the green space once it’s completed, and so far has amassed $10 million in funding — including money from state Sen. Martin Golden (R–Bay Ridge) and Councilman Vincent Gentile (D–Bay Ridge) toward revamping the park.

Ridgites can learn more about the project and weigh in on the design at a April 27 meeting at Fort Hamilton High School, where landscape architects will map out the plan and use the feedback to fine tune the design based on locals wants and needs.

“Not everything will make the cut, or our budget, so decisions will still need to be made on the direction of the plans,” reps with the design firm wrote in an e-mail obtained by this paper. “Parks will have some dos and don’ts that we need to observe, and may limit some options, but we were thinking big at the moment.”

Weigh in on the design at Fort Hamilton High School (8301 between 83rd Street and Shore Road Lane) on April 27. 6 pm.

The “street concept” would rearrange the benches along Shore Road with some facing into the neighborhood and add tables to create gathering spaces, plus add an open space that could accommodate a farmer’s market or food trucks.
Nelson, Pope, and Voorhies

Reach reporter Caroline Spivack at cspivack@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2523. Follow her on Twitter @carolinespivack.

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