By Nicole Gartside
In celebration of Earth Day, the students of NYU’s Journalistic Inquiry took some time to appreciate Mother Earth by visiting the Stuyvesant Cove Park. We got a chance to speak to Daisy Hoyt, the Park Manager, in the Solar One building nestled on the border of the park, responsible for taking care of the space.
Q: Can you tell us a little bit about what it is Solar One does?
A: Solar One does a variety of things. They have an education department that runs K-12 programming in schools throughout the city. They also have a workforce training program in Long Island City that trains folks for green jobs and we have arts programs.
Q: Was Solar One responsible for building the Stuyvesant Cove Park?
A: Solar One was created after the park was built. The park was built about 10 years ago after a lengthy community battle. There were plans to fill in the river even more here and develop high-rises, some big development, but folks in the community decided they didn’t want that and fought against it for years and finally they won. They were asked, well what do you want? And they said, we want a park, so the city built a park. Solar One was created to manage the park.
Q: What was here before the park?
A: It was a brown field so prior to be it being a park it was just sort of abandoned space. There was a bunch of junk; trash, cars. And before that, I believe there was a concrete factory and before that there was a gas refinery.
Q: So what is it that you do here at Solar One?
A: My daily tasks are I order supplies, I arrange community events, I deal with various community folks. I go to community board meetings, things like that. I oversee a seasonal gardener and a maintenance person and I write reports and grants and various managerial things like that. I run several walks throughout the year to talk about the plants and various other things of interest in the park. One of these days, I may partner with the education program to come up with a park ecology class.
Q: When people come by here, do you think they know about the programs going on here?
A: Some people just value it as a green space and they don’t necessarily know much about plants or ecology and that’s fine. Some people are very curious and ask questions and are really intrigued by the idea of all native species.
Q: Obviously it must be difficult to sustain a park in such a dense, urban area. What sorts of challenges do you face with maintaining this park?
A: We have lots of challenges. I would say the biggest challenge that comes with being in an urban place is foot traffic. People don’t really understand that walking through the beds or letting their dogs walk through the beds is damaging. Other than that, this is a very exposed location here. It’s very hot and bright in the summer and lastly, the highway’s right there and there’s air pollution.
Q: How was the park affected by Hurricane Sandy?
A: We got lots of flooding here and it also deposited a pretty incredible amount of debris in the park. We filled up I think three dumpsters worth of stuff from the park. It also soaked the park in salt water and that’s not very good for plants and at this point I’m just sort of waiting to see what comes back and what doesn’t. So far, so good. We’ve been seeing a lot of things come back that I was a little skeptical about.
Q: What are Solar One’s plan for the future?
A: Ultimately also we want to build in this space a new building called Solar Two that will be sort of a model of sustainability with solar panels and geo-thermal walls, have an exhibition space and classroom space and things like that.