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High Line park appears ‘on track’ for reopening

BY ISAAC SULTAN | Green spaces throughout New York have bustled with activity throughout the coronavirus shutdown — often to the ire of Governor Cuomo and Mayor Bill De Blasio — with one notable exception. The High Line has remained closed since March 16 — and it’s unclear when the aboveground park will reopen to the public.

A former freight-rail viaduct, the elevated park first opened in 2009. One of the city’s top tourist attractions, last year the High Line had 8 million visitors.

“The High Line will reopen to the public after the City has determined that it is safe to do so,” the Friends of the High Line said in a statement to The Village Sun.

The organization referred further questions about the reopening to its “partner,” the city’s Parks Department — which, in turn, referred them right back again to the Friends.

It will be interesting to see how the popular — but narrow — park handles social distancing. (Courtesy Friends of the High Line)

For now, though, it seems like it could possibly be in less than two weeks when people are allowed onto the High Line once more. That’s when New York is set to enter phase three of its reopening.

The Mayor’s Office released a statement Thursday asserting that the city is on track to begin phase three on July 6. Scheduled to reopen then are soccer fields and basketball, tennis, volleyball, bocce and handball courts. Dog runs are also slated to reopen on that date.

“Our parks are hubs for active recreation and we’re excited to welcome all New Yorkers, both human and canine alike, back onto sports courts and dog runs for another safe and fun summer,” Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver said. “We’re committed to maintaining safe green spaces for all to enjoy and encourage visitors to wear a face covering, frequently sanitize their hands, and maintain distance between each other while out in parks.”

Another hint the High Line might soon be springing back to life was in an e-mail sent out this Wednesday by Eric Rodriguez, the High Line’s director of horticulture. His message detailed preparations for bringing the public back to the park.

“After months of sheltering-in-place while COVID-19 restrictions kept us away, gardeners have been carefully resuming work on the High Line over the past few weeks to prepare for the park’s reopening,” Rodriguez said.

According to Rich Caccappolo, chairperson of the Community Board 2 Parks and Waterfront Committee, Friends of the High Line is set to make a presentation to the committee on July 1, at which time more details about the park’s reopening will surely emerge.

It seems like only a matter of time before New Yorkers will be welcomed back to their beloved High Line. Though it remains to be seen how different the experience of walking in the park will be, with social-distance restrictions in place.

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