Yesterday officials announced the completion of 5,200 square feet, $5.7 million expansion of Zion Triangle Plaza, located at the intersection of Pitkin Avenue and East New York Avenue in Brownsville. The Plaza was given to the City of Brooklyn in 1896 by landowner Peter L. Vandeveer, and was known as Vandeveer Park before being renamed Zion Park in 1911 in acknowledgment of the large local Jewish community.
The redesign enlarged the plaza to 22,940 square feet by permanently closing Legion Street between Pitkin and East New York Avenues, as well as one lane of traffic on East New York Avenue adjacent to the plaza. New sidewalks, and crossings were installed, along with new trees, plantings, and benches.
Amphitheater-style seating was added to enable future performances in the plaza, to the delight of Community Board 16 District Manager Viola D. Greene-Walker, who praised the “beautiful sitting area for the many seniors who live in the Bishop Martin Apartments across the street,” as well as access to open space for the students at the adjacent Ascend Charter School.
The plaza also received a new electrical system, a water fountain with bottle filling capabilities, and two new rain gardens to help reduce the volume of stormwater entering the local sewer system. The project took two years to complete.
Zion Park War Memorial sculpture, known as the Brownsville War Memorial, was restored by A. Ottavino Corp. of Brooklyn at a cost of $600,000. Sculpted by Charles Cary Rumsey and dedicated in 1925, almost 100 years ago, the memorial was cleaned, repointed and damaged limestone on the memorial’s landings and steps and was replaced.
“This is an exciting day in Brownsville as we finally cut the ribbon at Zion Triangle Park and Public Plaza,” said City Council Member Alicka Ampry- Samuel. “We’ve had some painful moments in this community throughout 2020 and before, but seeing the vision of beautification finally be realized- restores hope in a better tomorrow. I look forward to many celebrations in this space in the coming months and years as we build community and put health and safety first.”
The Zion Triangle Plaza has been part of the DOT plaza program since 2010 and is managed by the New York City Parks Department and the Pitkin Avenue BID. Parks Department is responsible for the sanitation and upkeep of the plaza, while the Pitkin Ave BID oversees programming and works closely with DOT on various plaza activities for the Brownsville community. Pitkin Ave BID Executive Director Daniel Murphy said the BID was “proud to have been a partner in this public project to enhance and expand open space in East Brooklyn and look forward to seeing Zion Triangle used by even more residents in years to come.”
Funding for the expansion and beautification of the Zion Triangle plaza comes from the de Blasio Administration and the New York State Department of Transportation.