Prospect Park Hoping to Update Unsightly Barricades

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They’ve been there so long, they seem like a permanent part of the landscape. Those metal barricades that stand at the Third Street entrance to Prospect Park. Those unsightly barricades with a DO NOT ENTER sign positioned in the middle of the street, between two classic pedestals topped by statues of regal, muscular panthers.

The temporary barricades have been in use for at least five years, when transportation officials first started limiting the hours cars could drive through the park. The Third Street entrance was closed permanently to all but Parks Department and emergency vehicles in 2009.

Some Park Slope residents are tired of the shabby-looking barricades and now the Park Slope Civic Council is sponsoring a design contest for a new entrance gateway.

Gilly Youner is a trustee, an architect and the organizer of the contest. As far as requirements: "It has to be moveable, so a fire engine or ambulance can get through. It could be a gate, a giant swing kind of thing, something that lifts up,” Youner said.

It also has to meet the needs of pedestrians and bicyclists.

Youner says the entrance does not have to be “historically contextual” with the panthers-on-pedestals, which date to 1898.

“[The contest] leaves it open to interpretation,” Youner said. The designs will be judged by a jury of ten “with a range of interests,” she says, that are “historic and contemporary.”

The architect in her takes in what she just said and laughs. “It sounds a little like design by committee!”

What the Civic Council wants, according to its call for entries, is “an attractive, contemporary, contextually appropriate and visually clear entrance gateway.” The winner will get $2,000 and two runners-up will get $500 each.

But there’s no guarantee that the winning design will ever grace the Third Avenue entrance. Youner says the design will be a prototype that will have to go through a two-year evaluation process, one that will likely include the Parks Department, the department’s non-profit partner, the Prospect Park Alliance and the Transportation Department.

Even so, Youner hopes the chance to contribute something to the park, and to Park Slope, will inspire people to enter a design.

If you’re interested, act fast: the deadline for designs is Monday, October 25. The entry fee is $20 for members of the Civic Council and $35 for non-members.