Q: How has Bogardus Plaza served as a public gathering space for unique events in your community?
Bogardus Plaza was opened in September of 2010. Since then, we have sponsored 5-7 events annually. Our biggest are the spring and fall festivals which draw many downtown families to the plaza. We invite local businesses to have tables at all of our events and ask local restaurants to provide snacks and beverages. At our most recent event we had 16 tables of activities as well as a live music and a demonstration by a local martial arts school.
Other fun events have included: Jazz on the Plaza, a Holiday Sing/toy drive, Yoga and boot camp. We are always looking for unique ways to ignite the space.
Q: Who are regular users of Bogardus Plaza?
The plaza is located at a very busy intersection in Lower Manhattan. We have an incredible mix of users. We did a study of users and found that nearly 70% of plaza visitors do not live in this neighborhood. On the weekends, we get local families who enjoy having a safe space to sit down while their kids run around. During the week, you will see a diverse mix of users which may include government employees, construction workers, bankers, tourists and students.
Q: What’s the busiest time of day in Bogardus Plaza?
Q: Please describe your day-to-day role in the day-to-day plaza management.
My volunteer position as the president of the organization keeps me quite busy. I have a role in all aspects of the plaza from daily maintenance to event planning, and fundraising. Now I am thrilled to add working with DOT and DDC on capital re-design of the space.
Q: Managing an active public space and its programming is no small task. What are the next steps for the community-based organizations supporting Bogardus Plaza as it plans for long-term sustainability?
Manpower and money are the two issues that face all groups like ours. We are working on creating an official “Volunteer Committee” with regular meetings and some perks like free t-shirts. For funding, we currently rely on two annual appeal letters. So far, that has been successful, but we are thinking about other, more reliable sources of funding. We are currently working on the creation of a business collective which would offer local businesses various visibility opportunities based on an annual donation.
Q: What advice would you give to other neighborhoods who would like to create a vibrant, shared public space like Bogardus Plaza?
First, populate a board of smart, connected and dedicated volunteers. Then go out and start talking to residents and business owners. Find out what the options are from DOT and go from there. Success rests on the strength of your community building blocks.
Q: Describe your favorite moment in Bogardus Plaza.
I remember when we first opened the plaza and the new tables and chairs had just arrived. As we took them from the truck and stacked them against the garden gate we were surprised as locals took them immediately, set them up in the plaza and sat down. We had clearly identified a community need.
Q: Is there any other information you would like the public and/or elected officials to know about Bogardus Plaza?
The Friends of Bogardus Garden is a board of 8 volunteers. We have no paid staff and raise 30K through appeal letters and donation jars at events. We are thrilled to be embarking on the capital re-design of the current space and are deeply grateful to our private capital donors as well as to Council Member Margaret Chin and BP Scott Stringer for their support last year. We look forward to continuing our work with Margaret Chin and to introducing Borough President Gale Brewer to the project this year.