The frontage of the LICH building at 385 Hicks Street, despite the great recent improvement, is still a bit of a mess. The graffiti are still there, and no maintenance person seems to have been assigned to keep a daily lookout for dirt and debris.
But a block east, on Henry Street, LICH continues to show what it can do for the beauty and pleasure of the neighborhood: two really nice playprounds.
These LICH-built and LICH-operated playgrounds have an interesting history. They were built some ten years ago in an agreement with the City in return for City park land (North Van Voorhees Park) which the hospital used to build a parking garage.
There was great controversy at the time over this deal. Opponents felt that city park land is sacred and should never be diverted for private use. I was one of these opponents. The opponents were also skeptical about LICH's ability and good faith to produce worthwhile playgrounds. The controversy is well described in a New York Times article of August 8, 1993. Well, it's now about a decade later, and I, for one, am happy, very happy with what LICH has done here. Over the years I have used these spaces to play with some of my grandchildren, to meet neighbors, and, weather willing, to enjoy the glorious outdoors.
Here are some pictures that I took of the northern playground today (if you look real hard -- well, not all that hard -- you'll spot a grandson of mine) :