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Central Park Conservancy restoration of the Merchant’s Gate comfort station

WHEREAS, Central Park was established in 1857 on 778 acres of land acquired by the city and open to the public in 1858; and

WHEREAS, Central Park was designated a scenic landmark in 1974, and

WHEREAS, The Merchant’s Gate comfort station constructed in 1924, is located East of West 61st Street just inside Central Park West, one block north of Merchants’ Gate at the southwest corner of the Park; and

WHEREAS, The elevation of the Park landscape in this location is below that of the adjacent perimeter sidewalk, and the roof of the stone building—which is built into a slope and abuts the perimeter wall—is a plaza off of Central Park West; and

WHEREAS, The comfort station was originally flanked by stairs that descended into the Park from Central Park West; and

WHEREAS, The stairs were removed as part of a 1980 rehabilitation project that also converted the vestibules just inside the doors to an open-air portico by removing the doors and windows, enlarging the windows to door-size openings, and installing ornamental steel grilles in the openings; and

WHEREAS, The building footprint is 1,265 SF with an overall height of approximately 13’-9” at the east elevation; and

WHEREAS, The building houses public restrooms, with a men’s restroom located on the south end of the structure, a women’s restroom on the north side, and a utility room located between the two; and

WHEREAS, The exterior walls of the building are made of granite with mortar-filled joints; and

WHEREAS, The plaza on the roof is paved in brick with a granite border, and the parapet is an extension of the park perimeter wall; and

WHEREAS, Three granite benches are sited along the parapet, and two decorative light standards are mounted near the corners of the plaza; and

WHEREAS, Aluminum framed windows with metal grilles are located on the north and south walls; and

WHEREAS, The comfort station has not been renovated since 1980, is unheated and closed in the winter; and

WHEREAS, The building is structurally sound, but in need of a substantial renovation to address water infiltration and accessibility issues; and

WHEREAS, The Conservancy is proposing to:

WHEREAS, Community Board Five is familiar with the high quality work proposed by the Conservancy and its ongoing effort to make more areas of the park ADA accessible, therefore be it

RESOLVED, Community Board Five recommends approval of the restoration of the Merchant’s Gate comfort Station.

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