Residents Hope Makeover of Boerum Hill Park Will Draw Kids

By Heather Holland on January 7, 2013 1:55pm 

BOERUM HILL — A playground in Boerum Hill that residents say has long been dominated by adults instead of children has reopened with new space just for kids.

Sixteen Sycamores Playground, a small park located on Schermerhorn Street between Nevins Street and Third Avenue, welcomed visitors on Dec. 27 after being closed since the spring.

It now includes a new children's playground, an adult fitness station and a new spray shower.

Local residents say they are hoping the improvements will make the park safer and more attractive for children who rarely visited the park because it was in disrepair and often taken over by adults.

“[The park] has a bad history of people getting high and using foul language — so much so that many parents vowed never to go back again,” said Sarah Garraroui, a Boerum Hill resident.

“The jungle gym was like 8 feet high, and had all the open areas for my 3-year-old to fall out of.”

Other issues raised by residents included leaky sprinklers and a need to reopen restrooms that had been boarded up permanently.

The renovation project was sparked about two years ago by local residents who saw potential in Sixteen Sycamore — one of only two parks in the neighborhood.

With the urging of residents and local community groups, in February 2010, Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz and Councilman Steve Levin allocated nearly $1 million toward its renovation.

The work isn't complete, but the park's play spaces have been resurfaced with safety rubber and decked with two new jungle gyms that fit the current safety standards of the Department of Parks and Recreation, spokeswoman Meghan Lalor said.

Other improvements include new benches, landscaping and the spray shower, Lalor said.

Public restrooms are still closed, she said. Lalor could not immediately provide a timeline for when they would be completed.

But that didn't deter some from enjoying the space right away.

“The park looks amazing," said Daughtry Carstarphen, a resident of Boerum Hill and a member of Friends of Sixteen Sycamore (FOSS), a group of residents advocating for improvement of the park.

The children’s play spaces have been separated from the adult fitness station by a fence, Carstarphen said.

“One thing people felt strongly about was the need to separate the adults from the kids,” she said.

Local residents hope that Parks representatives will visit the space following its reopening, which might encourage more parents to bring their children to the park.

“The park was always great for us,” said Garraroui. “It is very shaded and cool in the summers. We could always get a swing. It just needs kids to dominate it.”

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