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Application from the NYC Parks Department for the Renovation of the Delacorte Theatre in Central Park

At the regularly scheduled monthly Community Board Five meeting on Thursday, January 13, 2022, the following resolution passed with a vote of 37 in favor; 0 opposed; 1 abstaining:

WHEREAS, The NYC Parks Department (“Applicant”) is proposing the renovation of the Delacorte Theater in Central Park; and

WHEREAS, The Delacorte Theater, operated by The Public Theater and founded by Joseph Papp, is an open-air venue seating about 1820 guests in seats offering clear views of the stage, best known for The Public Theater's free Shakespeare in The Park, one of New York City's most beloved summer traditions, as well as other productions; and

WHEREAS, These productions were offered on a temporary stage in Central Park beginning in 1957; and in 1962, the city completed construction of a permanent home for the productions, with funding from philanthropist George Delacorte, with the first production in the new theater being The Merchant of Venice, starring George C. Scott and James Earl Jones; and

WHEREAS, The theatre is located in a picturesque setting with both Turtle Pond and Belvedere Castle close by; and is a very popular venue, with most all events sold out, yet is not up to par with ADA upgrades and is in need of repair to existing deteriorating structures; and

WHEREAS, The proposed plan includes significant structural improvements to the lighting towers, patron seating, service windows, building exterior, canopy, fencing and signage, ADA accessibility, ticket booths, and backstage area; and

WHEREAS, The work is planned to commence at the end of the 2022 theatre season, and is budgeted at $77 million, with $41M to be supplied by NYC, and the balance from private donors, most of which is already accounted for, with no associated naming rights or signage currently planned; and

WHEREAS, Community Board Five does have concerns about the degree of the accessibility at the box office for patrons in wheelchairs, which should have a front-approach design and not just side-approach, and asks the Applicant to continue their investigation to ensure the maximum possible accessibility in the renovation; and

WHEREAS, Community Board Five recognizes the input from some members of the public that the proposed size and thickness of lettering in the signage on the building exterior can be viewed as heavy-handed, and asks the Applicant to ensure the signage is tastefully minimal while still achieving its aims of identifying the building; therefore, be it

RESOLVED, Community Board Five supports the application from the NYC Parks Department for the Renovation of the Delacorte Theatre in Central Park; and be it further

RESOLVED, Community Board Five requests that the Applicant further investigate front-approach accessibility at box office and concession windows for patrons with disabilities, and requests that the Applicant further consider the final determination of size and thickness of lettering in the building exterior signage.

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