Parks Dept. unveils $6.74M improvements to long-neglected Williamsburg playground
Construction of the BQE cut local park in two
NYC Parks Commissioner Sue Donoghue on Friday joined Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso, Councilmember Jennifer Gutiérrez, representatives from the North Brooklyn Parks Alliance and El Puente, and community members to cut the ribbon on a $6.74 million renovation of La Guardia Playground in South Williamsburg.
The project was funded through NYC Parks’ Community Parks Initiative, which aims to redesign and rebuild underinvested community parks in high-density, low-income areas. The playground now features upgraded sports courts and new play equipment, with a design that connects the site’s two sections by using similar materials, site furniture and plantings.
“Today we are celebrating the completion of the first full reconstruction of La Guardia Playground in nearly 40 years, making this a space that the South Williamsburg community can be proud of. That’s what the Community Parks Initiative is all about!” said Donoghue.
“It’s always a special moment to be able to return to my home district and celebrate new upgrades and resources for my beloved Southside Williamsburg,” said Reynoso. “When we create beautiful recreational spaces in our communities, people will come and use them.”
“These parks and playgrounds were constructed around the BQE by design. For decades, the Southside community has had to endure poor air quality and noise pollution because of decisions made generations ago that put our communities last. For too long there have been little to no meaningful investments to maintain our green spaces, and I appreciate that the city and the Parks Department have prioritized these long-needed improvements,” said Gutiérrez.
La Guardia Playground contains two properties for a total of 1.88 acres. The first phase of the project reconstructed the southern parcel of the park, including refurbished basketball and handball courts; an adult fitness area; a new seating area with tables and chairs; and a rain garden to aid in sustainable stormwater management.
The second phase addressed the northern parcel of the park, adding new play equipment for kids aged 2-5 and 5-12; a tot-sized seating area; and brand new water play features. A wider planted edge was installed along Borinquen Place to screen vehicular traffic and help mitigate emissions from the nearby roadways.
La Guardia Playground was originally built in 1937 in conjunction with work on the Williamsburg Bridge, and the following year the Department of Public Works transferred the site to the City of New York. The playground was further developed in the 1940s and ’50s to accommodate the elevated approach to the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway that bisects La Guardia Playground. The last major capital improvement to the playground was in 1985.
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