City’s Community Parks Initiative giving overdue makeovers to local parks

Two south Brooklyn parks are getting the million-dollar makeover of a lifetime as part of the city’s Community Parks Initiative (CPI)—a citywide program that sets out to improve historically under-funded parks in all five boroughs.

Gravesend’s Lafayette Playground and Bensonhurst’s Lt. Joseph Petrosino Park are two of five parks in Brooklyn receiving the funding—Lafayette scoring $5.4 million for renovations and Lt. Joseph Petrosino Park collecting $4.5 million.

Announced by Mayor de Blasio and Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver, FAICP on Tuesday, October 6, the makeover dollars are coming out of a surplus in funding from the city, an amount that is now double its original number, according to the Mayor’s Office.

In total, CPI plans to invest $285 million in capital dollars through 2019 – along with a sustained annual commitment of over $2.5 million in expense funding – to improve the quality of life in several neighborhoods by revitalizing 67 community parks that have remained untouched and without significant improvements for decades.

“Every New Yorker deserves access to clean, safe green spaces, no matter what neighborhood they live in. By doubling our investment in historically under-served neighborhood parks, we are significantly improving the quality of life of families and children across this city,” said de Blasio. “Our sustained investments in additional neighborhood parks will expand the Community Parks Initiative’s impact to 3 million New Yorkers – ensuring countless more families and children will have a revitalized park right in their neighborhood.”

“In the 12 months since Mayor de Blasio launched the Community Parks Initiative, hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers in historically under-resourced neighborhoods have benefited from enhanced public spaces, new and increased programming, and grassroots parks scoping sessions,” added Silver. “The doubled capital investment reaffirms the administration’s commitment to ensuring all New Yorkers a bright, green future.”

For Lafayette Playground, located at Stillwell Avenue between Bay 43rd Street and Benson Avenue, the initiative will call for scoping meetings in 2016—an opportunity for neighborhood residents to provide their input on the design and programming of the now empty triangular space.

“Parts of our neighborhood have historically not seen attention and resources to improve recreational opportunities and quality of life benefits for residents,” said Councilmember Mark Treyger, whose district includes Lafayette Park. “I am proud to announce that our concerns about parks in southwest Brooklyn have begun to be heard. I appreciate that the Department of Parks has responded to my comments about funding reaching neighborhoods in all of our city’s regions.”

Over in Gravesend’s Lt. Joseph Petrosino Park, the funding will go toward making sure the space becomes “aesthetically current,” redesigned, and reconstructed, according to Councilmember Vincent Gentile.

“We all know about the big parks in our neighborhoods, and, as elected officials, we are able to give these parks much of the financial attention they need to keep our grass green and our local sports teams happy,” Gentile said. “One of the smaller, but no less valued, parks in my district, Lt. Joseph Petrosino Park, will be receiving $4.5 million to make sure that it stays current. This is a step in the right direction to bring all of New York City’s parks into view, the big picture we’ve been waiting for.”

The other parks in Brooklyn slated for renovation through CPI are Epiphany Playground in Williamsburg, Newport Playground in Brownsville and Bergen Beach Playground.

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