The popular playground in Sunset Park has been under renovation for the past year and was originally expected to reopen this month, in time for the summer.
However, when passing by, you’d be hard pressed to find folks working on finishing it. The NYC Parks website lists the project as only 36% complete. At this point, it seems the almost three million dollar renovation is unlikely to be finished on time, despite repeated assurances by the Parks Department that it would open come June 1st.
As the result, Councilmember Menchaca and Community Board 7 are demanding both – a completion of this project as repeatedly promised, by June 1st, 2017, and an audit of Park’s Department’s projects in the neighborhood.
While the project seemed to be on track in January, by February Parks Department had informed them that the project would be delayed until June of 2017, according to Councilmember Menchaca. When Councilmember Menchaca and Community Board 7 District Manager, Jeremy Laufer investigated further, it was uncovered that delays were expected to keep the playground closed till September.
As of this morning, that is also what the information on the Parks Department site says: “Adjusted Completion Date: September 2017″. When asked for an update on the current status, Parks Department said: “We are doing everything we can to expedite this project”, and promised more information later in the week. We’ll keep you posted.
Two years without a playground is a long time for children growing up in the city, and there are not that many playgrounds in Sunset Park to begin with.
As you can see in this map that WNYC put together back in 2015, while access to parks is not as limited as in Borough Park, Midwood or Flatbush, there is pressure from increasing population density on available park space.
There are the school playgrounds by the local public schools, but those are off limits during the school day, and are often closed after school, and are not really for families with small children.
The others are also not created all equal, and the majority are located along the 3rd avenue – essentially below the BQE and next to a local truck route – a place local parents who worry about air quality would like to avoid taking their child for long periods of time if there were any other options.
“Air pollution, such as fine particles (PM2.5), can cause health problems, particularly among the very young, seniors and those with preexisting health conditions. In Sunset Park, levels of PM2.5, the most harmful air pollutant, are 9.2 micrograms per cubic meter, compared with 8.7 in Brooklyn and 8.6 citywide” according to the 2015 community health survey by the city.
That same WNYC analysis mentioned earlier also looked at the distance to a park as an issue in accessibility:
For the 5-12-year-olds – the obvious option is school playgrounds, however, parents say they are often closed after hours, even though the schools participate in the Schoolyards to Playgrounds Program. This program opens schoolyards to the use by the general public after school hours and on weekends, when not in use by the school.
If your family lived, say on 50th Street, between 5th and 6th, here would be your options:
- Rainbow Playground on 6th between 55 and 56 would be nearest, a 6-minute walk, if you can manage one block a minute with a three-year-old.
- Sunset Park Playground (10-minute walk) – closed
- Gonzalo Plasencia Playground, also on 3rd Avenue, between 40th and 41st, behind IS136.(15-minute walk)
- Pena Herrera Playground located on 3rd Avenue between 46&47, in the back of P.S 1. (10-minute walk)
- Martin Luther Playground, located across from Lutheran Medical Center on 2nd Avenue between 55 and 56th. (15-minute walk)
- D’Emic Playground at the back of Sunset Park High School, that offers three basketball courts and a few slides. (Located on 3rd avenue between 34th and 35th, 20-minute walk).
- Brizzi Playground just on the border with Boro Park, is currently missing some equipment, per Parks Department website, and is a 20-minute walk.
- Rappaport Playground on Fort Hamilton at 52nd Street is also about 15 minutes.