Park Slope Playground Reopens After One-Year Renovation

By Leslie Albrecht | May 14, 2012 3:34pm | Updated on May 15, 2012 12:06pm

PARK SLOPE — The British are coming — to a playground near you.

The newly renovated J.J. Byrne playground gives a nod to the area's Revolutionary War role with an interactive gameboard that lets kids position British war ships and Continental Army troops.

The game, themed on the Battle of Brooklyn, is one of several brand new features at the playground between Fourth and Fifth avenues and Third and Fourth streets, which reopened May 11 after a yearlong wait while the Parks Department completed a $5.87 million makeover.

Now home to shiny new swings, slides and jungle gyms, the spot where the playground now stands — next to the Old Stone House in Washington Park — played a key role in Colonial history when a company of Maryland soldiers held off British troops who had captured the Old Stone House while General George Washington led his soldiers to safety across the Gowanus Creek on Aug. 27, 1776.

The only fighting on Monday was between kids who wanted to stay a little longer to test out the new play equipment and nannies and parents rounding up children for the trip back home. One of the more popular components was a spray fountain where kids can splash around.

"It looks fantastic," said Park Slope mom Kathrine Vangen, whose 4-year-old daughter had been asking regularly when the new playground would be ready. "There are so many different stations. They can challenge themselves in a safe environment."

Vangen praised the new playground's spacious feel and numerous spots for adults to sit and watch kids. The new playground, made with natural stone and "rustic pavement," was designed to be "respectful" of the Old Stone House, originally built in 1699, the Parks Department said in a release. 

The yearlong renovation was the last in a series of improvements made in Washington Park. In 2008, the park got a new skate park, two new basketball courts, eight handball courts, and a new dog run, according to the Parks Department.

A multipurpose synthetic turf field was added during a second round of renovations, and a plaza was created" to open the view of the Old Stone House from Fourth Avenue," according to the Parks Department.