Dyker Heights

Patrick O’Rourke Playground reopens after $1M renovation

November 16, 2016 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Councilmember Vincent Gentile, Parks Department officials, local residents and members of the family of the late Patrick O’Rourke celebrate the completion of renovations in the park named after O’Rourke. Photo courtesy of Gentile’s office

A playground named in memory of a handicapped Dyker Heights man who touched many lives with his determination and spirit has been reopened now that the parks department has completed a $1 million renovation of the recreational space.

Patrick O’Rourke Playground, located on 80th Street near 12th Avenue, now has new swings, a water play area, picnic tables, benches and drinking fountains thanks to the renovation project that was funded by Councilmember Vincent Gentile.

The parks department also restored a beloved bear statue in the playground and added a new statue of a baby bear cub.

Gentile was on hand to help Elaine O’Rourke, the mother of the late Patrick O’Rourke, and representatives of the parks Department cut the ribbon to reopen the newly renovated playground during a ceremony that took place on Nov. 10.

Patrick O’Rourke, who was born and raised in Dyker Heights, suffered a tragic accident during a hospital stay when he was eight years old and was paralyzed for the rest of his life. He lived to adulthood but died several years ago. His family turned their personal tragedy into positive action by successfully lobbying for laws and procedures to protect patients in hospitals across the country, according to the parks department. 

Gentile said he felt compelled to come up with the funding for the project. “Given the history of this park and for who it is named in honor of, it was my pleasure — and I felt, my duty — to allocate $1 million in funding to renovate and rededicate it so that it can be enjoyed by generations of children for years to come,” he said. 

The playground was named in O’Rourke’s memory in 2003.

“The renovation of Patrick O’Rourke Playground is meaningful in the Dyker Heights community, and especially to the O’Rourke family,” Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver said in a statement. “This renovation brings needed amenities to the neighborhood, offering something for park-goers of all ages. From the spray shower to the swings, surfacing and picnic area, Councilmember Gentile’s generous funding has gone a long way in transforming this playground.”

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The renovation project got under way last year.

Elaine O’Rourke expressed her gratitude to the city at the 2015 ceremony marking the groundbreaking for the project.

“Words cannot express how much this ceremony means to us. There is not a day that goes by that we do not think of Patrick. The renovation ensures that Patrick’s legacy will live on forever through the laughter and play of children in this special place,” she was quoted as saying on www.nycgovparks.org, the parks department website.

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