After years of tireless advocacy from neighbors, elected officials, and this news site, the long neglected Bensonhurst Park on Cropsey Avenue and Bay Parkway is about to get the ambitious overhaul it deserves.
Over the next two years, more than $6.5 million in capital funds will be poured into the park, which has not seen a full scale renovation in more than a quarter of a century.
For the 2016 fiscal year, the park — which is technically located in Bath Beach — has been allocated $700,000 from Councilman Vincent Gentile and $100,000 from Councilman Mark Treyger. For the 2017 budget, the park has been designated $2.218 million from Gentile, $2.3 million from City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, $1 million from Mayor Bill de Blasio, and another $200,000 from Treyger.
Included in the revamp is a complete playground reconstruction, new sprinklers, paths and plaza realignment, benches, and new game tables. There will also be infrastructural improvements and like a new drainage system and lighting installed, a spokesperson for New York City’s Parks Department has confirmed.
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“We are thrilled that this project has officially been funded, and we look forward to the scoping meeting with the community later this summer,” said Parks spokesperson Maeri Ferguson.
Once the scoping meeting takes place, the design process will begin. The average time to complete the design phase is 10-16 months. (The project’s progress can be tracked here.)
Bensonhurst Park, though being one of the largest green spaces in southern Brooklyn, has fallen in disrepair in recent years. With broken benches, tree stumps protruding from the sidewalk, and loose bricks, it is also among city parks with the highest incidence of playground injury lawsuits, according to a 2015 Comptroller report.
When we inquired about funding for the park last year, we were told that the playground requires more than $30 million in capital funds to be restored to its original glory, which is a daunting amount for any two-term City Council member to raise. As a result, the Park Department came up with a five-phase plan for the park, so that the improvements could be made incrementally, Gentile said.
Gentile, whose third and final term ends in November 2017, said he advocated aggressively for funding from the City Council speaker and the mayor to ensure “phase 1” and “phase 2” would be funded by the end of 2017.
“I had to make the case for the Speaker to to put the money in. I told her ‘This park is in such deplorable shape, that even if you live close by, you don’t want to go it,'” he said . “Now with this transformation, it will really be on its way to becoming a destination.”
The Parks Department and Gentile are interested in community input for design phase of the new playground. We will keep you posted on a date for the scoping meeting, but in the meantime, comments can be emailed to the councilman at VGentile@council.nyc.gov.