De Blasio Legacy: New parks rise in key Brooklyn sites

May 18, 2021 Editorial Staff
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Dedication of space, $31M helps make neighborhoods home


Mayor Bill de Blasio and NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver recently announced the beginning of construction on four park projects in Brooklyn, representing a more than $31 million investment. 

These projects include the construction of a brand-new park in Greenpoint; reconstructing a popular playground in Ocean Hill and adding a skate park; revitalizing and reconstructing a recently renamed park in Downtown Brooklyn; and a new Community Parks Initiative site. 

50 Kent in Bushwick Inlet Park is a brand-new park coming to Northern Brooklyn. Upon completion, the $7.7 million park will include features for passive and active recreation including new seating areas, gathering area, expansive lawns, an overlook with picturesque views of the city, and water play features to help keep cool during the summer months. 

This site is one of the cornerstones of the development of Bushwick Inlet Park. It was acquired by the city in 2007 and underwent remediation conducted by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. 

Callahan Kelly Playground is a community park in the heart of Ocean Hill. This project will reconstruct the playground, spray shower, perimeter sidewalks and walls, basketball courts, adult fitness equipment and sitting areas. In addition, this project will construct a brand-new skate park and will feature new park entrances. City funding for the project totals more than $18 million.

Plans for Susan Smith McKinney Steward Park Reconstruction, formerly Bridge Park II. Map courtesy of NYC Parks Department

This park, bounded by Fulton and Truxton Streets, Van Sinderen Avenue, and the Eastern Parkway Extension, was named for two local soldiers who died in World War I, William E. Callahan and Edward E. Kelly. Callahan, who lived nearby at 98 Hinsdale Street, was a corporal in Company L of the 305th Infantry and was killed in action at the Battle of the Argonne on October 2, 1918. Kelly, who also lived only blocks away at 1330 Herkimer Street, was a Private in Company G of the 23rd Infantry, and later the 106th Infantry, and was killed in action at the Battle of Dickie Bush Farm on Sept. 2, 1918. 

Susan Smith McKinney Steward Park Reconstruction, formerly Bridge Park II, was officially renamed last December as part of Parks’ efforts to honor the Black experience. This project will reconstruct the play equipment, swings, and spray shower and construct a new adult fitness area, a multi-purpose synthetic turf field with a performance stage, benches, fences, drainage, water supply and add new plantings. 

The reconstruction is privately funded in the amount of $7.5 million by Watchtower. Susan Smith McKinney was the first African-American woman in New York State to receive a license to practice medicine. She was born, raised, lived, and practiced in Brooklyn.    –>

This $4.76 million renovation of LaGuardia Playground in South Williamsburg will be completed through the Community Parks Initiative (CPI), the City’s first-ever parks equity initiative, funded by Mayor Bill de Blasio. The project will reconstruct the children’s play area (northern parcel) at La Guardia Playground and include new play equipment, seating, landscaping, and a spray shower. 

“Increasing access to open space and improving parkland is integral to building healthy communities. These four projects set to begin work in Brooklyn reflect our effort to continuously invest in our neighborhoods and offer New Yorkers much needed respite and recreation,” said Commissioner Silver.

“I’m excited that these projects are underway and look forward to the views at the overlook at 50 Kent; the new skate park at Callahan Kelly Playground; reconstructing the Susan Smith McKinney Steward Park so that it will be worthy of bearing McKinney’s name, and bringing a revamped playground to Williamsburg.”

“For years, North Brooklyn has been asking: where’s our park? With this historic investment at 50 Kent, we’re one giant step closer to making the full Bushwick Inlet Park a reality,” said Assemblymember Emily Gallagher, who represents Williamsburg.

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