Storm-Damaged Trees Get New Life as Play Equipment in Prospect Park

By Leslie Albrecht on October 4, 2013 9:27am 

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 Trees felled by Sandy and other storms are now part of a "natural exploration area" in Prospect Park.
Storm-Damaged Trees Get New Life as Play Equipment in Prospect Park
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PARK SLOPE — Trees felled by Hurricane Sandy and other storms have been given second lives as play structures in Prospect Park's newest children's area.

Officially known as the Donald and Barbara Zucker Natural Exploration Area, the new "innovative" play area consists of uprooted trees sculpted into shapes for kids to play on, said Prospect Park spokesman Eric Landau. 

A log on its side has been fashioned into a sofa-like seat, and another tree has had an opening cut into it so kids can walk through it, Landau said. There are also boulders, sand, stones, and a pump that pours water onto a grooved log.

All of the trees in the new play area were knocked to the ground or cut down after they were damaged in storms over the past few years. The park lost about 500 trees due to Hurricane Sandy, and another 500 in other recent extreme weather such as Hurricane Irene, the Halloween snowstorm of 2011, and a 2010 tornado.

The new play area opens to the public on Sunday, Oct. 6. It's in Nellie's Lawn, a grassy section just off East Drive, north of the zoo. The exploration area borders the Vale of Cashmere, a secluded, heavily wooded area that some park users regard as a "magical and mystical" spot, Landau said.

The Donald and Barbara Zucker Natural Exploration Area is the first of many upgrades planned for the park's eastern side, which is overdue for some attention, Landau said. That section of the park is next on the list for capital improvements after Prospect Park opens its massive Lakeside development later this year.

In the meantime, the new tree-centric play area will help draw people to a lesser-known corner of Brooklyn's green oasis.

"We wanted to do something that would introduce more people to that area," Landau said. "We really hope it's going to generate excitement for this section of the park that for many is overlooked. It's sort of off the beaten path."

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