Prospect Park has been given a $40 million cash injection to restore important landscapes in the northeast corner of the park called the Vale.

The funding is the largest single amount ever given to Prospect Park Alliance, the nonprofit that sustains the park in partnership with the city.

On Thursday, Mayor Bill de Blasio went to the park to hand over the huge – literally and figuratively – check to “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,” he said of the park.

“This historic $40 million in funding will ensure the Vale is restored to its full glory.” 

Conceptual Rendering Amphitheater and Community Building. Photo: Prospect Park Alliance

The money will go towards restoring two historic landscapes: the Children’s Pool and the park’s former Rose Garden. The former Rose Garden first served as a Children’s Playground when the park opened in 1867. With the opening of the Brooklyn Botanic Garden in 1911, the Rose Garden eventually fell into disrepair and the rose beds were removed.

In 2017, Prospect Park Alliance, in collaboration with the community, found identified several possible amenities for the area of the park, including a sensory garden and rustic arbor; a nature play area for families; and a landscaped amphitheater and small building with flexible gathering space and restrooms for the community’s enjoyment.

With this new funding, Prospect Park Alliance and NYC Parks will start the design process in early 2022, and the Alliance will partner again with Hester Street to engage the community in the process.

Conceptual Rendering Children’s Pool. Photo: Prospect Park Alliance

The site of the historic Children’s Pool originally featured a small pond where children sailed miniature boats, surrounded by ornamental trees and shrubs, but in recent decades it has fallen into a state of disrepair. Design of the Vale Restoration is slated to begin in 2022, and the project will proceed through the New York City Parks design and construction guidelines, which includes a year for design, a year for procurement, and 12-18 months for construction. 

NYC Parks Commissioner Gabrielle Fialkoff said with the funding, 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,” he said.

“This amazing new space will serve Brooklyn for generations to come.”

Sue Donoghue, president of the Prospect Park Alliance, added that it was critical to see the work advanced to make the park fully accessible and welcoming for the community.

“Today, through this historic funding allocation from the Mayor, we will be able to realize the community’s vision for the 26 acres in the northeast corner of the park,” Donoghue  said.

“Since its founding, the Alliance has restored significant landscapes and buildings in the park, from the 150-acre woodland Ravine to the 26 acres in the southeast corner of the park, Lakeside and the LeFrak Center.”

Anna Bradley-Smith

Anna Bradley-Smith is Brooklyn-based reporter with bylines in NBC, VICE, Slate and others. Follow her on Twitter @annabradsmith.

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