Two Bay Ridge playgrounds are getting new equipment and a fresh look.
At a meeting of Brooklyn Community Board 10’s parks committee on Thursday, the city’s Parks Department presented plans to redesign J.J. Carty Playground and the playground at Owl’s Head Park.
Here’s what’s coming:
J.J. Carty Playground
The two-acre J.J. Carty Playground, which is located at Fort Hamilton Parkway between 94th and 101th Streets, will get a revamped spray shower, new play equipment including swings, ping-pong tables and fitness equipment.
One goal of the rearranged space, said Parks Department staffer Denise Mattes, who presented the proposal, was to keep active and passive uses together.
“The hope is to put all of that play area together so that a parent isn’t running back and forth as they are now between the two sides.” Mattes said.
Smaller touches include new shrubbery and child-friendly wayfinder markings inspired by elementary school classroom decals. The Department also plans to lower several fences in and around the park to between two and four feet, as part of their Parks Without Borders initiative to better integrate green spaces with their surrounding communities.
The existing comfort station and recently restored Verrezzano flagpole monument will remain as-is, as well adjacent baseball fields and basketball courts (though Parks staffer Chris Yandoli suggested that, at some point in the future, that area could potentially become a skatepark or a synthetic turf field if funding becomes available).
Board member Doris Cruz suggested the Department add additional bucket swings to the site for young children, though Mattes said it would be difficult to fit more swings in the relatively small space. The design currently calls for eight swings, along with a ninth, ADA-accessible swing. Cruz also suggested space at the comfort station be used for youth programming.
Several attendees also expressed interest in saving the bizarre-but-charming whale sculpture currently at the playground, to which Mattes said, “if it becomes a prevalent thing that needs to be saved, I certainly can find a spot for the whale.”
The JJ Carty project will cost $5.4 million, and is being paid for with discretionary funds from local Council Member Justin Brannan. Mattres said the Parks Department hopes to complete the project by fall 2023.
Owl’s Head Park Playground
The goals of redesigning the .7-acre playground at the eastern end of Owl’s Head Park, said Parks staffer Aurora Davis, include upgrading “play capacity,” creating space for community events, and adding environmental amenities to the site.
To that end, both sides of the playground, which is bisected by a walkway, will get new play equipment, along with a total of 10 swings (including an ADA-accessible swing and a two-person “companion” swing). The redesign also includes more greenery and a small “nature trail” play area in the eastern most portion of the space, along with kid-friendly climbing equipment around a new spray shower.
The Department also plans to remove some of the taller fencing currently surrounding the space, which Davis called “fortress-like.”
This renovation will cost approximately $4 million; capital funding was included in the fiscal year 2020 city budget. Cruz asked why the Owl’s Head playground redesign was more expensive per-acre than the larger J.J. Carty redesign.
“There’s a lot more open space at JJ Carty,” explained Parks staffer Chris Syrett. “This is more of a compact space. The acreage is a little bit deceptive. But they’ll have the same amount of play equipment, play value, amenities.”
Cruz also asked about what some residents refer to as “Lake Owl’s Head,” the seemingly ever-present body of water that collects on sidewalks near the playground and makes them difficult to navigate. Davis said the department would replace old drain utilities and add stormwater-capture capacity.
“We’re going to be addressing that fully, for sure,” Davis said.
As in J.J. Carty, swings were a source of active discussion: Theresa Monforte-Carabello expressed frustration that there were no swings designed for children who cannot leave their wheelchairs. Davis and other Parks staffers acknowledged her concerns, but said they believed the existing ADA-accessible swing along with other accessible design elements resulted in the best use of limited space.
The adjacent basketball courts, which Yandoli called “the worst courts we have in Brooklyn,” are not included in the scope of this project. But Yandoli said a revamp has already been funded, and will enter into the design phase “shortly.”
Davis said she expects construction to start summer or fall 2022.