Brooklyn Heights

Promenade Gardens getting a modern makeover with WiFi

July 7, 2015 By Cody Brooks Special to the Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Head gardener Matthew Morrow. Eagle photos by Cody Brooks

Volunteers gathered at the Promenade Gardens in Brooklyn Heights on Tuesday morning to pack new plants into the dirt, trim the brush and help solve the modern problem of bringing WiFi to the Promenade.

Among those problems are ways to place new plantings around the WiFi boxes to hide them. “Even though there is modern technology buried here,” said gardener and project manager Koren Volk, “we still want this to look like an old-fashioned, well-cared for public garden.”

Donations from Brooklyn Heights neighbors are needed to help provide those plantings. (Donations can be made at promenadegardenconservancy.org).

In an effort to maintain the beauty of the Promenade Gardens while providing WiFi, the Promenade Gardens Conservancy decided to cleverly disguise the necessary hardware by building it into new light posts (which will provide light as well) — the same that line the rest of the promenade. The initial hardware was buried in boxes underground, covered by steel plates.

Installing the light posts and wiring routers into them will complete the process. Once finished, the final product should be seamless WiFi coming from seemingly nowhere.

About six years ago, the Promenade Gardens were in poor shape — the NYC Parks Department did not have the budget to put in new plants and maintain the gardens. Eventually, a volunteer system was created. The Brooklyn Heights Association made an agreement with the Parks Department: together, the entities hired a lead gardener to direct the care of the garden, and the rest of the help comes from volunteers under the banner of the Promenade Garden Conservancy.

In the years since the volunteer program was created, the garden has transformed from an overgrown mess littered with trash to a carefully laid out plan, “like a map,” Volk said. Under the care of Volk and lead gardener Matthew Morrow, the next step in drawing that map is the installation of public WiFi within the garden.

“It’s been really disruptive for the garden,” Volk said about installing the boxes of hardware. “Though in fairness, [when they installed it] they really tried to do a decent job.”

The WiFi points, five in total, will run from Pierrepont Street to Clark Street. Though the boxes of initial hardware are installed, for now there are five big, bright-orange traffic barrels sitting in the gardens where the light posts will be.

The Promenade Garden Conservancy can always use the help of more volunteers to work on the gardens. They meet every Tuesday at 9 a.m. and often go for coffee together afterward. For those who would like to help, but cannot volunteer, donations are also welcome and go a long way toward purchasing supplies used to maintain the garden.

For more information, check out the Conservancy’s website (promenadegardenconservancy.org) or show up to help out on a Tuesday morning near the Pierrepont Street entrance.

For more photos, check out BrooklynArchive.com