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New York Daily Photo: Father Demo Square
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Saturday, 23 June 2007

Father Demo Square

This was the ceremony for the eagerly awaited reopening of the newly renovated "vest pocket" park at Father Demo Square. Although this park space may appear small and inconsequential, park spaces large or small are very important to the fabric of the city - these urban oases provide the only outdoor space most New Yorkers ever see. The park is also at a very strategic location - one of the busiest intersections in the Village. The triangular park is bounded by 6th Avenue (Avenue of the Americas), Bleecker Street and Carmine Street. The square is named after Father Antonio Demo (1870-1936) who was pastor of the neighboring Our Lady of Pompeii Church in 1935. Residential buildings also flank the park - many visitors forget that there are residents live amidst all this, so apart from the physical deterioration and much needed repair, one of the concerns was crowd control. Historically people were in this park all hours; the homeless started setting up home, performers attracted enormous audiences, noise, revelry and fights were common. Hence the decision to include a 3-foot high perimeter fence to the design. The renovations were overseen by the Parks Department (with George Vellonakis was the landscape architect) and David Gruber, local resident, real estate developer and president of the Carmine Street Block Association. The renovation included decorative tiles, a new fountain, trees and flower beds. The $1.3 million dollar project took somewhat longer than anticipated - there were additional issues involved since the park was located over the 6th avenue subway lines. The ceremony, which included live music, was presided over by David Gruber. Attending were Borough Park president Scott Stringer, the pastor of neighboring Our Lady of Pompeii Church, NYPD sixth precinct commander Theresa Shortell (the sole female police precinct commander in New York) and the general contractor for the project. I also recognized a number of local community activists. For reasons unknown, the Parks Commission decided to cancel their attendance at the last minute. Word has it they plan an official ribbon cutting in a couple of months ...


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