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By Peter Frishauf
I moved to West 103rd Street with my partner KC and her daughter in 1982. I’ve lived on the UWS since my parents moved to 86th Street in 1950, and have been in this neighborhood since 1970.
In 2009, with the support of WSFSSH we joined with friends and installed a whimsical but functional parklet, Senior Moments, around the entrance to the Marseilles as part of the national Park(ing) Day celebration. It’s purpose: to re-imagine how we use public street space and create some neighborhood cheer for Marseille residents.
We installed sod on the pavement, brought along comfy camping chairs, sidewalk chalk for kids of all ages, and volunteer musicians. And let the magic happen:
Within hours of opening, hundreds joined in conversation, song, and more. We planned on taking up 3 parking spaces, but as people continued to join in, the NYPD Community Precinct staff suggested we extended our space to Broadway to accommodate what had grown into a half-block-long, all-day event.
Our original plan was to use the event to encourage the city and other stakeholders to think about providing Marseilles residents and neighbors who walk by the narrow entrance to think about improving the space for everyone. Many of us feel badly that Marseilles residents, especially those in wheelchairs, don’t have access to a pleasant, green outdoor space by the entrance to their landmark building. All of which, of course, is made even less welcoming by the need to accommodate scaffolding over the years. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a permanent parklet that wrapped around the Marseilles on both the 103rd Street and Broadway?
In the fall of 2019 we teamed up with OpenPlans and hired urban planner Mike Lydon’s StreetPlans to formally study 103rd Street, starting with the Broadway block.