By Barry Benepe
A recently rebuilt Jackson Square is about to be rebuilt once again to repair and reconfigure the individual landscape elements while retaining the basic design. It will continue to be bordered by its cast iron picket fence punctuated by three centered side entrances framed by granite gate posts. The granite set blocks will be replaced by a smooth paved surface. Shrubs surrounding the fountain will be replaced with more trees. Perimeter planting beds will be widened, benches added, the central fountain restored with new lighting and the existing radial fence and drinking fountain replaced. Repairs to the 1930’s perimeter fence will also be made. The work is expected to take approximately a year. The contractor will be responsible for care of the plantings during that time.
The original design was prepared by landscape architect James Balsley in the mid 80’s. The current design was completed by Parks landscape architect George Vellonakis who also designed City Hall, Washington Square and Abingdon Square Parks. All were done with a great deal of skill and fidelity to historic details.
I had hoped to see the granite sets replaced with planting beds to make the park more garden-like which happened with Washington Square, Abingdon Square and City Hall, but there was apparently a need felt to retain pedestrian circulation space in Jackson Square. The final results should provide a more beautiful park. The work is expected to be completed by March of 2019.
In the meantime, the updated tentative schedule provided by the Parks Department for completion of the new Jane Street Garden fence is as follows. It will be done in two parts: (1) For two weeks beginning May 17, the existing fence and footings will be removed, a new granite curb installed and exact measurements made for the new steel fence. The sidewalk will be leveled at this time. (2) For the second two weeks from July 30 until September 10, the new steel fence with the double five foot wide corner gates will be fabricated and installed. The garden can continue to be open during its regular hours and to keyholders during construction.