Two new entrances to Prospect Park have opened along Flatbush Avenue.
One entrance is on the north-east side of the park, near the old rose garden, and a smaller second entrance is located just north of the Prospect Park Zoo. The entrances are the first new openings to the park since it was built in the 1940s.
A key figure behind the project was NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver. Silver said when he was in high school he used to run around the park with his brother, and he always thought there needed to be an easier way to get in. In later years, that inspired his creation of Parks Without Borders, the initiative behind the development of the entrances.
"When you are fortunate enough to work for the city where you grew up, there are some things you do that hold not just professional, but personal significance. For me — this is that project," he said.
"I am thrilled to see these pathways open today, to inspire and welcome all people into the park the way I had once only dreamed about."
The $3.2 million project, funded by Mayor Bill de Blasio and designed by Prospect Park Alliance, includes new lighting, seating and landscaping. At the larger entranceway, a small public plaza is being constructed with two levels of seating that overlook surrounding woodlands.
The plaza will also have a rock scramble of boulders sourced from the building site of nearby New York-Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist Hospital and stepping stones will lead to a running trail atop a nearby berm. A formal ribbon cutting for the new entrances will be held with the community in coming weeks.
De Blasio said through the Parks Without Borders initiative, the city was making Prospect Park, "better than ever before."
"Green space has never been more important, and I'm proud NYC Parks is deeply committed to making it more accessible to all New Yorkers," he said.
Prospect Park Alliance President Sue Donoghue said the alliance was committed to making Prospect Park open and accessible to all communities it bordered, and it was grateful to be able to open pedestrian access while work concluded on the site.
"These new entrances will serve as an important gateway to the park for our east side communities, and to the park's northeast corner, a focal point of our future restoration efforts," Donoghue said.
The creation of these entrances is part of a comprehensive restoration of the Flatbush Avenue perimeter of Prospect Park. A second project, funded with $2.4 million from Borough President Eric L. Adams and Councilmember Laurie Cumbo and led by the Prospect Park Alliance, restored the Flatbush Avenue perimeter from Grand Army Plaza to the Prospect Park Zoo to its original grandeur with new landscaping, an expanded promenade, and new furnishings.
Prospect Park was nominated with overwhelming community support for the Parks Without Borders initiative that aims to improve our parks and the access to them. When NYC Parks put a call out to the community to nominate parks, the agency received more than 6,000 nominations for 691 parks — approximately 30% of the city's parks.
The eight selected projects, sharing $40 million in funding from the mayor, were revealed in May 2016; and an additional $10 million has been applied to another 40 capital projects in progress. The other selected parks include Fort Greene Park; Van Cortlandt Park and Hugh Grant Circle/Virginia Park and Playground; Jackie Robinson Park and Seward Park; Faber Park; and Flushing