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Battery Park keeps growing as housing boom continues.

The Battery Park Conservancy is moving along with the park's renovation, having completed a new fountain and planted waterfront gardens this summer.

Now, the non-profit agency and its partner, the New York City Parks Department, are planning to bring two food kiosks, a children's playground, a public green and extended bike paths to the West Side oasis. According to BPC president Warrie Price, work on the bikeways will start in about 10 months, and the designs are currently being discussed for a three-acre public assembly area that will accommodate 10,000 to 15,000 people.

Price and architect Claire Weisz, of Weisz + Yoes, who has been working with BPC on the new projects, explained that the changes are being done to accommodate the new influx of residents downtown, as well as to attract visitors from all over the world.

"We did an extensive survey to find out what the new population downtown was looking for," explained Weisz. "We found out that it was not very pleasant to sit in the park and a lot of families found that there wasn't anything for them to do. So the idea of having a food kiosk, and a fountain, and a carousel and these amazing gardens--it was to attract [these people]."

According to Price, the 60-foot fountain will now serve as a public gathering space, allowing people to enjoy such events as the River To River music festival and other outdoor performances. The soon-to-come carousel--featuring 28 sea figures--is supposed to be a big selling point for young moms, who often take their kids to Battery Park for their daily walks. And once the bikepaths connecting the East Side and the West Side are completed, Price hopes to get enough money to renovate Castle Clinton, returning it to its original use as a performance space. "It was our first opera house, where the New York Philharmonic debuted," Price explained. "Our plan is to have a transportation hub there, connecting us to other cultural destinations in the area. And there is also a wonderful rooftop pavilion, where we can have great performances. We are working to bring that project to life--it could be built within the next three years, if funding is in place. We have about half of that money right now."

Weisz believes that the agency is going in the right direction by providing people with both comfortable spaces to sit and cultural activities for all ages.

"It was amazing how much both the residents of the city and the visitors were enjoying the fountain this summer," she said. "I think the carousel will make a huge difference--something for both the young and the old to ride on. It will be a place to have birthday parties and other specials events, and it will be completely unique. And as the gardens grow in, it will be extraordinary. People will be able to enjoy some incredible plants on the waterfront."
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Author:Misonzhnik, Elaine
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Date:Nov 9, 2005
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