A Gravesend park that got a $4.5 million makeover from the city has reopened — four months ahead of schedule — thanks to quick work from the Parks Department and construction contractors.
Lafayette Playground, a 1.19-acre recreational spot tucked into a corner of Gravesend where Stillwell and Benson avenues meet, reopened on July 25 following its transformation from an asphalt wasteland into a vibrant park with lots of greenery, Councilmember Mark Treyger said.
Treyger, a Democrat representing Gravesend, Coney Island and parts of Bensonhurst, said he was happy to see the park welcome families once again.
“I’m elated to see this project finished so that the children, seniors and families in our community can enjoy the new and enhanced Lafayette Playground and green spaces,” Treyger said.
The new version of Lafayette Playground boasts new playground equipment for kids, an adult fitness area, basketball courts, a walking trail, a picnic area, game tables, water fountains, benches, plantings and a section of synthetic turf where people can practice tai chi and yoga.
Treyger plans to host a ribbon cutting ceremony at the park within the next few weeks. The date has not yet been set.
Brooklyn Parks Commissioner Marty Maher hosted a groundbreaking ceremony marking the start of the renovation project in October of 2018.
Gravesend residents were invited to submit ideas on what they wanted to see in the park at a meeting the Parks Department had last year and many of their ideas were incorporated into the design, officials said. “This is not our design. This is your design,” Maher told residents at the groundbreaking ceremony in October.
The Lafayette Playground project was part of the Community Parks Initiative, a program in which the de Blasio administration revitalizes long-neglected parks in densely populated neighborhoods. Mayor Bill de Blasio started the Community Parks Initiative in 2014.
Treyger, who said he had to fight to ensure that Lafayette Playground was included on the Community Parks Initiative list, added that the park has been on his radar for a long time.
“When I lived in Bath Beach on Cropsey Avenue I would frequently walk by and wish the space was better utilized than just being a pile of concrete,” he told the Home Reporter in a text message.
Even though the recreational space was lacking, local residents still found uses for it, according to local officials, who said groups of people would gather there in the early mornings for tai chi.
“I appreciate the tai chi classes in the morning but knew we could do even more for families,” Treyger said.
At the groundbreaking last year, Treyger said he envisioned the park as a space for community-sponsored events like concerts.
There are bound to be plenty of students using the newly renovated park.
Lafayette Playground sits across the street from the Lafayette Education Complex, a building that houses five small high schools: Kingsborough Early College School, the International High School at Lafayette, the Expeditionary Learning School for Community Leaders, the High School of Sports Management, and Life Academy High School for Film and Music.
Two other schools, John Dewey High School and P.S. 212, are located a few blocks away from the park.