The Pearly Gates Park in Westchester Square has a brighter future ahead, literally.
New lighting is to be installed in the park’s immediate surrounding area.
Additional LED lighting is to be placed at the intersections of Tratman Avenue and St. Peter’s Avenue as well as Tratman and Rowland avenues.
Extra long arms are to be installed on the already existing light poles at the two intersections adjacent to the park, to expand the area the lighting will enhance.
Tratman and St. Peter’s will receive the upgrade on two light poles while Tratman and Rowland will have only one.
Approved in early May of this year, the project is under the jurisdiction of the NYC Department of Transportation.
Technically, the new lighting will shine down on the street and sidewalks outside the park, but The Pearly Gates Park will still benefit.
This lighting project comes as part of a larger, citywide initiative that is a ‘sister act’ to the ‘vision zero initiative’, according to a DOT spokesperson.
Community Board 10 district manager Matthew Cruz explained that the request for the new lighting was in CB 10’s list of district needs.
It was the only lighting project on the list to be approved.
“Safety was a concern of the nearby residents. We’ve had many complaints about the park’s darkness at night,” said Cruz.
Sandi Lusk, the director of Westchester Square-Zerega Improvement Organization is thrilled to see this project come to fruition.
She’s been working to improve The Pearly Gates, with a major focus on the playground, since 1990.
“It’s come a long way,” said Lusk. “More policing and better lighting have been priorities that we’ve been pushing for, this a great upgrade” she added.
Lusk also explained that in the past the park was subject to large amounts of vandalism, while dangerous gang activity had also tarnished The Pearly Gates as well.
In the 2016 a shooting also occurred in the park’s immediate area, which had also prompted Lusk to call for an increased police presence for the intersection.
In time she had met with many local elected officials including the mayor to make the community space of the park safe for all, while indicating that the park’s diminutive size could be the reason it is sometimes overlooked.
In the past, part of that community space was used during summertime for children’s programs as well.
“It’s a weak link that needs support and things have gotten much, much better,” said Lusk. “I don’t want things to ever go back to the way that they were,” she added.
Cruz estimates the lights should be installed by the end of June, in the second quarter of the year.
However, the DOT says it has up to six months to complete the order for the new lighting.