Saturday, August 25, 2007

LICH's playgrounds on Henry Street

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) :

Friday, August 17, 2007

Dawn of a New Day ?

Here is the news I've had this morning from LICH :
1) The landscaper is coming in over the weekend to have a look.
2) Additionally, we are looking to hire a company to power-wash the graffiti off the brick face. Our corporate compliance policies dictate we solicit bids for the project rather than just award it to a vendor. Meaning that this, too, will churn through the system, but eventually get done.

Obviously we'll have to wait and see. But, in anticipation, let's just say good work, LICH.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Debris is gone, but grafitti stays

Here are some pictures, taken on Thursday, August 16, 2007, about 6:45 p.m. This is the exterior of LICH's building at 385 Hicks Street. It is a block that also has residential homeowners who try to keep their neighborhood neat and clean. As Mr. Reagan might have put it (if he had been as polite as I): Ms. Battles, madam, please, clear up that ugly facade !

Tuesday, August 14, 2007


LICH has today cleaned up the frontage to its 385 Hicks property !! Not only was the trash and debris removed, but all those unsightly weeds have been cut down. Great job, LICH.

The next step, to which they have also agreed, is beautification, meaning well-cared-for plantings and ongoing monitoring of the site. As I have shown in a previous posting, there are some beautifully executed tree pits on Hicks just north of State. These should serve as a model of what can be done.

I had previously agreed to contribute $300 toward the cost of beautification, and I am eager to send my check. I have asked for details of the planning, perhaps sketches, and also, most important, a time table. I have asked for a completion date no later than a month from now. I hope to be able to send my check real soon.

In my preoccupation with the debris problem, I have been remiss in not mentioning the many good experiences I have had with LICH over the years. One of my grandchildren was born there; my wife had a successful operation at LICH; a number of times the LICH emergency room saved us from much grief. Thank you for all that good medical service, LICH.

Please stay tuned for the progress of the beautification program.

Monday, August 13, 2007


August 13, 2007

Ms. Rita Battles,
President, LICH

Dear Ms. Battles,

As you know, I am one of your neighbors on the 300 block of Hicks Street. I want to help you beautify the perimeter of your buildings on this block. We're in this together.

I will make a modest donation ($300, say) to help you buy plants for those unsightly tree pits if your people will provide the labor and you promise to do the maintenance on an ongoing basis.

Sorry to be so public about this little letter, but the LICH site does not furnish a contact address. Besides, this public communication may encourage others to also make donations ! I have already written to a neighbor along these lines.

Your neighbor

Werner Cohn, 391 Hicks St.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Whose Pits are These ?

Yes, these tree pits are on Hicks Street. Yes, each is but a stone's throw from LICH's main hospital building. Do they front buildings owned by LICH ?

Not !

The private owners of the buildings that these pits do front are tax payers. They do not benefit from the municipal tax exemptions of the non-profits. But their simple beauty and cleanliness, and civic spirit, could well serve as an example to certain non-profit groups.

The Garage Door

LICH's building at 385 Hicks has two entrances. One, only partially shown here, is on the right, and is regularly used by LICH personnel. The other, on the left, seems to be an unused garage. As this picture show, it is surrounded by debris, weeds flourish, and some trenchant grafiti seems to enjoy tolerance from the LICH administration. The door does not seem to have been cleaned, let alone painted, since the days of Mayor Jimmy Walker.

Remember that this building stands in a residential block of Cobble Hill where private owners take pride in both cleanliness and property values.

Pit #2

I have so far only talked about the left, southern tree pit that is found in front of LICH's building at 385 Hicks Street. But there is also a Pit #2, as I call it, which is located a few feet north of Pit #1. The top picture here shows this tree pit, bereft of trees, but well supplied with weeds. What kind of weeds ? Several different kinds, not including, I sincerely hope, rag weed.

Now the lower picture here is what you see if you look through the weeds from above, directly to the ground. At this level there is a nice assortment of debris, bottles, papers, you name it.

Both pictures were taken today, 8/12/07.

The Pit, 8/12/07

The top picture shows the situation a day later. Not much has changed. The bottom picture gives a closeup of one part of the this pit, as of today.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

The Tree Pit - 8/11/07

LICH owns a building at 385 Hicks Street. In front of this building there are two tree pits. The left one has a tree, some weeds, and a lot of debris. The right one has just weeds and debris. I am watching the left one. This picture above was taken on 8/11/07, at 6 p.m.