$500K Slated For Tot Lot Renovation, Says Councilman [Updated With 2014 Budget Followup]

(Photo by Ditmas Park Corner)
(Photo by Ditmas Park Corner)

The Lt. Federico Narvaez Tot Lot, a neighborhood playground on Cortelyou Road at Argyle Road, is a small but vital corner park named for a local fallen police officer. It’s also been the cause of angst for local parents over the past few years, with issues ranging from unsupervised gates to chronic disrepair.

This year, Council member Mathieu Eugene announced a $500,000 budget for renovations to the Tot Lot, in the City Council capital budget beginning July 2016, according to the council member’s office.

“The Tot Lot has been on my list of priorities,” said Council Member Mathieu Eugene. “I even brought the Comissioner of the Parks Department and other community leaders to evaluate the needs of the Tot Lot in order to secure the necessary funding… I’m confident this funding will ensure that the playground will be transformed into a fun–and more functional–space for our children.”

The funding, and arrangement for the most current on-site scope meeting, is still in process at the Parks Department, with more information to follow throughout the summer. We will report on the timeline and improvement plans as more details are released.

This isn’t the first time we’ve reported issues at the Tot Lot. In 2012, the parks volunteer responsible for opening and closing the gates was dismissed for surly behavior, and subsequenty, people were found loitering after hours inside the open gates.

Neighbors clearly care deeply about the Tot Lot, as evidenced by the community volunteers that stepped up to supervise the gates after the parks department closures in August 2012.

[Update on July 6] This isn’t the first time a renovation budget was announced for the Tot Lot. In 2014, we reported that a budget of $1.5 million was discussed at a Community Board 14 meeting, for drainage system repairs. 

Donald Loggins, head of the board’s environmental committee, reported that the Cortelyou Tot Lot (Argyle Road and Cortelyou Road) will be undergoing major repairs to address drainage issues. “It tends to flood when it rains and snows, and now the worker sweeps water into the street, but their goal is to repair it,” Loggins said. The $1.5 million repairs from the city will include installing new piping and drainage.

Sources from the Parks Department have confirmed that the budget for this project did not pass. 

What’s going on at the Tot Lot today?

More recently, the lot was inspected by the Parks Department on January 12, 2016 and received a stamp of approval for cleanliness and structural integrity. But one frustrated neighbor wrote to us and said, “the Lot full of stagnant water, broken equipment, and piles of dirt.”

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The Tot Lot on June 30, 2016 (Photo by Ditmas Park Corner)
Water pooled in concave pavement at Tot Lot on June 30, 2016 (Photo by Ditmas Park Corner)
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Uneven stones visible at Tot Lot on June 30, 2016 (Photo by Ditmas Park Corner)

We’d like to open this issue up to our readers: Do you think the Tot Lot is in dire need is repair? And if so, what improvements would you like to see with the budget money? Take the quick poll, and leave comments below.

[poll id=”106″]

Correction: An earlier headline mistakenly stated that $50,000 was designated for Tot Lot repairs.

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  1. That was where Associated used to stand back in the early 70’s. I was working there the morning it burned down to the ground, literally. I was the first to see the smoke coming up from the floor behind the milk case. I started to get everyone out and then ran over to the fire department. When I got back everyone was out except for Sam, one of the owners. Tommy Costello and I ran back in to get him. Through the thick black smoke I crawled down the conveyor belt shaft and he ran to the back door leading to the basement, both of us screaming his name. He was in the basement office. He heard us and later told us, when he opened the door there was a wall of flames in front of him. He got out with just the back of his hire being singe. An amazing experience for a couple of fourteen year olds.

  2. That’s a fantastic story, and though I always assumed something had stood there previously, I never knew what.

  3. Thanks Michael, I loved that neighborhood when growing up there. I used to listen to stories from the old timers when I was a kid. I heard stories from when the streets were still dirt roads and there were still farms in the area. What great history that place has.

  4. $50k for the renovations, $450k is going in someone’s pocket. Typical government contracts. Sweet gig if you can get it

  5. I would like to see the Tot Lot get an upgrade, especially the part that gets the big puddle. But I don’t think it’s OMG DANGEROUS to children as it is – I have never seen the play equipment broken in any way (if it was, it has been fixed). The loose bricks and sand were my kids’ favorite part about it.

  6. No swings. It’s not big enough – if you put swings in, there’s be room for very little else, and very few people can use the swings at one time.

  7. They need to entirely replace or use elements of the existing playground structure to build a new one. There are sharp metal edges in numerous places, jagged edges where paint has chipped off, and uneven stairs. The dirt piles are actually nice for the kids to play in, but it would be nice if the park had proper drainage and if there wasn’t a garbage-alley next to the building behind the park.

  8. This is ridiculous if true, and I seriously doubt that it is true. Not even city administrators are this stupid.

  9. Sorry, but there must be a typo somewhere. There’s no way….NO WAY….it’s gonna take half a million dollars to upgrade the freaking Tot Lot!!!

  10. I’m all for bringing the tot lot up to spec, but not at that price. There’s something very fishy here.

  11. It’s not great for toddlers to have choke size crab apples all over the place. Although it’s great to have trees for shade and atmosphere.

  12. Swings, please! With some proper planning they could definitely fit. Right now kids have to walk all the way to the Parade Grounds if they want some swing time.

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