By Julie Shapiro
BATTERY PARK CITY — One hour after the new playground in West Thames Park opened Friday afternoon, it was already overflowing with children.
Toddlers ran shrieking through the interactive fountains, and older kids climbed a rope jungle gym. Several basketball games were going on simultaneously on the child-sized half-court.
“It’s creative — it’s different than what you see in the neighborhood,” said Michelle Albala Brener, 38, a Battery Park City resident who brought her three-year-old daughter and two-year-old son to the park.
“Everything is fresh and new. I love the colors.”
A few parents said they missed the towering trees and sturdy wooden play equipment of the old playground, known as Tire Swing Park, which the State Dept. of Transportation ripped up last fall as part of the Route 9A highway reconstruction.
But most said the new playground, with separate areas for different ages, is an improvement over the old one.
“To think people were arguing against it is crazy,” said Nicholas Parmar, 33, as he pushed his three-year-old son on the new tire swing. “This is state of the art."
Only the playground portion of the larger $9 million park opened on Friday. Residents will plant the community gardens next weekend, and the two lawns and the adult basketball courts will open in the middle of June.
The project leaders from State DOT, who attended dozens of community meetings to negotiate every detail of the plans, stood back and smiled as they watched kids crawl over the equipment Friday.
“They’ve been chomping at the bit for weeks,” Lisa Weiss, the design director, said of the local kids. “It’s all worth it.”
The West Thames Park playground is open daily from 6 a.m. to 1 a.m. along West Street at West Thames Street.