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Dag Hammarskjold Park: Volunteers, Green Gardens and Cappuchino

The merry month of May was busy as well as merry for Dag Hammarskjold Plaza Park and its guiding light, the Friends of Dag Hammarskjold Plaza. After holding an annual members' meeting in March at which 17 directors were elected, the Friends were well prepared for May's flurry of activity.

Every Saturday morning since the beginning of May, the Friends' garden volunteers have been busily putting in new plants and shrubs in a major effort to enhance the Katharine Hepburn Garden. On Saturday, May 19 their efforts were augmented by other volunteers who came to help under the auspices of the NYC GreenUp Day, a yearly citywide event for sprucing up public parks.

Anne Saxon-Hersh, president of Friends, commented, "We are spending more than $15,000 on new plantings this year, thanks to support from Greenacre Foundation, a grant from the Ford Foundation, and contributions from Turtle Bay Association that were earmarked for the Katharine Hepburn Garden." She also noted that Friends owes a big note of thanks for the expert guidance of Thomas Ching, parks manager for Manhattan, and George Vellonakis, the park's architect. "Park staff and the Doe Fund are also pitching in," Anne continued. "This team effort demonstrates how the city's Partnership for Parks coordinates the vision of community volunteers through its Parks Department. This is a major initiative and we're very excited about it."

The annual garden party on May 12, celebrating Katharine Hepburn's 94th birthday provided an opportunity for Turtle Bay residents to enjoy the Park in all its Spring glory. This year, besides the cake and a huge birthday card to sign, guests were treated to performances by children from the Fred Astaire Dance School and the Chris Flory Jazz Quartet. Anne called on Bill Curtis, president of TBA, to say a few words about Katharine Hepburn's role as a neighborhood conservationist in Turtle Bay. NYC Parks Commissioner Henry Stern dropped by, as did Council Members Gifford Miller and Eva Moskowitz.

The Greenmarket is back, now in the Park on both Wednesdays and Saturdays. (See following article.)

The eagerly anticipated Café Blue, in the "glass house" is finally a reality. David Helbraun, owner-manager, said the coffee bar opens weekdays at 7 A.M. and weekends at 9 A.M., with closing time around 8 P.M. Enjoy outdoor seating and treat yourself to a variety of the finest roasted coffees, espresso, and cappuccino. There are also sandwiches and pastries. Hot soup will be available to warm us in the winter months. Judging from the line at the counter, Café Blue is an instant success.

After months of casting about for a solution to the skateboarding problem that plagues Hammarskjold Park, Friends discovered "skate-stoppers," ingenious L-shaped pieces of hardware that can be attached to the edge of a retaining wall. While the stoppers will be installed along the seating wall at the westerly end of the plaza, NYC Parks advised that the hardware could not be installed on the steps due to liability issues. "We decided to use the area as an exhibition space for sculpture," Anne said. "That will make it difficult for the skateboarders to get a running start." She added, "Normally, we love free publicity, but it didn't help that our Park was featured in a double spread in the pages of a national skateboarding magazine!"


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The Turtle Bay Association is a nonprofit (501c3) community organization.

224 East 47th Street, New York City 10017
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