The Madison Square Park Manager, Brad Lowe, took some time out of his busy schedule of seasonal plantings, leaf raking and more to share a some of his wealth of Park knowledge with us.
How many people does Madison Square Park employ?
In addition to our office staff, the Madison Square Park Conservancy employs four full time Maintenance/Horticulture Employees, two full time gardeners, and four seasonal Maintenance/Horticulture employees. We also contract three full time PEP officers, and two seasonal patrollers.
What does the park staff do?
The park staff works on a variety of projects throughout the year. One thing that is a constant in the park is maintenance. There is always litter, graffiti, leaves and other debris that need to be cleaned from the pathways, benches, planting beds, lawns, etc. In the winter months we spend the majority of our time shoveling snow and ice. If the weather cooperates we can also spend time repairing and replacing fences. Last year we were able to overhaul the park house to create a more organized space. During the winter months the gardeners spend much of their time planning for next year’s annual plantings. Between the 17 annual planting beds, and over 50 designed planting containers along 5th Avenue and on Worth Square, there is a lot of planning that takes place. In the spring we spend time with the gardeners, spreading mulch throughout the park’s planting beds. The gardeners work to prune and manicure the plants in order to get them ready for another year’s growth. The maintenance staff gets back to mowing the lawns and helping to keep the park clean once spring fever hits the public. When summer arrives we are in full swing with trash, mowing, and the events schedule. It can be a hectic time with setups and breakdowns of events along with cleaning up after the summer crowds. In the fall it is bulb planting season and time to rake leaves. Between the near 60,000 bulbs and bags and bags of leaves there is plenty to stay busy with.
Can you give us some inside information on this year’s Mad. Sq. Holiday Tree?
The Holiday tree is coming to us from northern Vermont. We are expecting a 30 foot Frasier Fir, which will be decorated with thousands of LED mini lights, and hundreds of festively painted pinecones.
What are some other projects that are currently taking place in the park?
Currently in the park we have just completed the planting of over 55,000 bulbs for the season. The gardeners are working to prune back some of our foliage for the winter. The maintenance staff is working feverishly to keep the paths free of leaves, and to ensure that our lawns are visible from under the blankets of leaves that await us each morning. We have been working with New York Restoration Project (NYRP) to compost as many of the leaves as we can.
How did you come to work in the Madison Square Park?
I came to work in Madison Square Park as a seasonal employee back in the Spring of 2010. I had recently moved here from Boulder, CO, and knew that if I was going to enjoy living in the city I would need to work outside. I have always worked in parks throughout my life, and to work in such a well-kept and popular park was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up. I have been lucky enough to move up within the organization, working to learn and help the park along the way.
What is your favorite thing about working in Madison Square Park?
My favorite part about working in Madison Square Park is the variety of things that go on in the park. From concerts to the public art exhibits, there is always something going on that brings people from all walks of life to enjoy the same space.