A previous public engagement process revealed the desire for flexible community space, restrooms, and an amphitheater. On December 16, 2021, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced an allocation of $40 million to restore parts of the Vale in Prospect Park. The Vale is a 26-acre stretch in the northeast corner of Prospect Park. The allocation is the largest in history for the Prospect Park Alliance, the non-profit that maintains the park in partnership with city government.
The $40 million allocation will go toward restoring the Children’s Pool and the former Rose Garden, two of the historic landscapes within the Vale. The Children’s Pool was originally a small pond surrounded by ornamental trees and shrubs, where children sailed miniature boats. In the 1890s, architects McKim, Mead and White installed a formal marble and granite balustrade along the pond’s soft edge. The area was nicknamed the “Vale of Cashmere” after a Thomas Moore poem and became known for its colorful foliage. In the 1960s, red-brick walkways, lights and benches were added but in more recent decades the area has fallen into disrepair.
The former Rose Garden has been a part of the park since it opened in 1867. It first was a Children’s Playground that contained Prospect Park’s first horse-driven carousel. It became a Rose Garden at the turn of the 19th Century, but the rose beds were removed after the area fell into disrepair when the nearby Brooklyn Botanical Garden opened in 1911. In 2017, the Prospect Park Alliance engaged in an extensive community outreach initiative called Reimagine Prospect Park, to help gather community input about what to do with the Rose Garden. Possible identified amenities include a sensory garden, rustic arbor, a nature play area, and a landscaped amphitheater and small building with flexible gathering space and restrooms for the community.
Now that funding has been issued, the Parks Department and the Prospect Park Alliance will engage in a design process starting in early 2022. There will be another community engagement process. The project will follow Parks design and construction guidelines, which account for a year for design, a year for procurement, and 12 – 18 months for construction.
The Vale’s restoration is the latest in a series of projects to restore and renovate this corner of the park. CityLand previously covered the restoration of the Flatbush Avenue perimeter of the park and the installation of new entrances along Flatbush Avenue, including one near the Rose Garden. Other upgrades included the restoration of woodland areas, Endale Arch, and pathways and lighting.
Mayor de Blasio stated, “Prospect Park is Brooklyn’s backyard. It’s where I got married and raised my family, and where New Yorkers of all backgrounds come to spend time in nature. This historic $40 million in funding will ensure the Vale is restored to its full glory.”
Parks Commissioner Gabrielle Fialkoff stated, “Thanks to Mayor Bill de Blasio’s $40 million investment, the gateway to Prospect Park’s treasured Vale, the borough’s last remaining forest, will soon be renewed, restored and revitalized. We are excited to work with our partners at the Prospect Park Alliance who provided the vision and advocated for this multifaceted project. Upon its completion, the Vale will be home to an amphitheater, a pollinator meadow and so much more. This amazing new space will serve Brooklyn for generations to come.”
Iris Weinshall, Board chair of the Prospect Park Alliance, stated, “”On behalf of Prospect Park Alliance, we would like to thank Mayor de Blasio for his leadership and vision in advancing Prospect Park, Brooklyn’s Backyard, for the millions of New Yorkers the park serves every year. His support of this important restoration, in addition to the Grand Army Plaza arch and berms, and other projects, will be a lasting legacy in Prospect Park, and one that all New Yorkers can celebrate.”
By: Veronica Rose (Veronica is the CityLaw fellow and a New York Law School graduate, Class of 2018.)