For at least a year, the sun will set on the popular Sunset Park playground due to a pricey renovation designed to improve the facility. However, although good news in the long-term, some users are upset about the timing of the closing, which will begin right before summer, prime months for children to enjoy the facilities.
“Sunset Park playground will be closed for a year starting on June 16,” said Nancy Magidson, Community Board 7 member and chair of the parks and environment committee during CB 7’s April meeting. A groundbreaking ceremony for the playground renovations will take place the same day. “Community members were understandably upset about the timing of the closing as it’s right before summer.”
Nonetheless, “This is something we’ve been asking for a long time,” noted Councilmember Carlos Menchaca during his first State of the District Address at Sunset Park High School on Sunday, April 12.
To lessen to absence of the playground during the summer, Menchaca has allocated funding for an alternative that kids can partake in. “In anticipation of this big construction project, I am allocating money and discretionary funds for the purchase and programming of an imagination playground,” he said. “It will be an innovative outdoor playset that will substitute for the playground during the construction, and offer children and their families an opportunity to engage recreation through the warm months.”
This “playground in a box …will include equipment, such as tactile things that kids can use with their hands,” Magidson said. “They can open the box and play with these things and close it back up at night. It’s at least something to stand in for the playground.”
Although the wait may be long, Sunset parents are also excited at the prospect of a new playground.
“I’m excited for this new project. The playground in its current state needs a lot of work, especially the rubber protective mats that shift and are out of place,” said mom Jovita Sosa. “It’s never pleasant to be without a playground, especially in densely populated Sunset Park, but the new playground that we’ll have by next summer sounds amazing. I’m happy that CB7 and Councilmember Menchaca took initiative to have substitute equipment brought in for families who make Sunset Park their summer getaway.”
The project, which will cost nearly $3 million – and whose renovation was jumpstarted by former Councilmember Sara Gonzalez before Menchaca took office — will include all new equipment for kids, including swings.
“This was brought up to us from parents from organizations and discussed during a community board meeting,” said Menchaca. “Their ideas were heard and we were able to do something about it.”