By Carol Tannenhauser
Ground broke on Tuesday for the contruction phase of the first major “revitalization” of the 61-year-old Delacorte Theater in Central Park since 1999 — and it is causing a great commotion in a normally tranquil part of the park, and melancholy among those who normally frequent it.
“I mean, I know it’s necessary,” a woman said, walking on the path leading to the theater, which is famous for its Free Shakespeare in the Park productions, early Thursday morning. “I want the theater to be renovated and made more accessible for the disabled, but…two years?”
Two years of tarp fences, dark green, reminiscent of the ones that surrounded the American Museum of Natural History’s new Gilder Center, on this same block (81st Street) on Columbus Avenue. Two years of construction trucks driving in and out of the park, of construction noise, of precious trees being fenced in by two-by-fours. Great care has been taken to protect the trees and park from injury.
And what is this commotion costing and what will it yield?
The partners in the endeavor — The Public Theater, Central Park Conservancy, and the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation — said in a joint statement that, for $78 million, “the long-overdue Delacorte revitalization will provide upgraded and more comfortable conditions for staff, artists and audiences alike, modernized back-of-house theatrical operations, and ensure equitable access for people living with disabilities. The Public worked with stakeholders in Central Park and the surrounding neighborhoods as well as design experts to create a design and construction plan that minimizes impact on the Park.”
“It’s worth it,” the woman said over her shoulder as she headed off toward the Shakespeare Garden to do what New Yorkers do best: adapt.
Update – Monday, 10:30 p.m. —
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