By Katie Ambrosini
Running along the East River of Manhattan, Stuyvesant Cove Park encompasses about 2 acres. It acts as a habitat for native species as well as an area of recreation for members of the community. The park is also home to Solar 1, a small educational facility, that manages many of the park’s responsibilities. The Park manager, Daisy Hoyt explained the history and function of Solar 1 as well as her role within the park.
NYU: How did you get interested in Sustainability?
Hoyt: I grew up in a rural area. My first job was at a greenhouse and I did a variety of tasks like watering and transporting.
NYU: What are your daily tasks a park manager?
Hoyt: I order supplies and I arrange community events. I deal with various community folks and attend board meetings. I also oversee a gardener and a maintenance persons. I write reports and grants–managerial tasks.
NYU: What is Solar 1?
Hoyt: It’s the educational facility. It was built as a model of a sustainable house. It has a roof covered in solar panels, it’s very well insulated, and it has a variety of other things that make it more sustainable.
NYU: What is the mission of Solar 1?
Hoyt: It has an educational department and provides K-12 programming throughout schools. It also has a work force training program in Long Island City that trains chronically unemployed and formerly incarcerated folks in sustainability and green energy. They learn how to take care of a building in general, but with a focus in green.
NYU: How is the park an icon of Earth Day?
Hoyt: It’s an example of sustainability. It’s a good example of how a park can be managed sustainably and provide wildlife habitat and be beautiful.
NYU: What was the space prior to being a park?
Hoyt: It was a brown field. It was an abandoned space with a lot of junk, trash and cars. I believe it was a concrete factory, and before that it was a gas refinery.
NYU: What are the challenges of maintaining a park in an urban area?
Hoyt: The biggest problem is foot traffic. People don’t understand that walking through the beds is damaging. It’s also an exposed location, it’s very hot and bright in the summer. The highway is also right there, so there is air pollution. My ongoing experiment is to find species that can do well here and thrive.
NYU: What does this park mean for sustainability?
Hoyt: It’s a great example of how you can manage a park sustainably. We’re right between a gas station, a highway, and a power plant. Good contrast.
NYU: Is there anything you would like to see more of in the park?
Hoyt: Public art would be nice.
NYU: Why is it so important for the park to just have native plants?
Hoyt: Well there are a couple of reasons: 1) native plants provide habitat for native animals. 2) They are endemic to the region and are theoretically easier to grow. 3) They provide an example of how native species can be beautiful and they help educate people of what occurs naturally around them.
NYU: What are some of the more notable species you have in the park?
Hoyt: We have about 100 different species. I love variety. We have some milkweed– it is the host plant for monarch butterflies. We have a variety of waterfront parks. Carolina rose is also notable it has beautiful summer flowers that smell amazing.
NYU: How did Hurricane Sandy affect the Park?
Hoyt: We got lots of flooding. It deposited an incredible amount of debris in the park. We filled up almost three dumpsters of stuff. It also soaked the park in salt water and that was not good for the plants. At this point, I’m waiting to see what comes back and what does not.
NYU: Are you dedicating your life to environmental concerns and efforts?