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Park Slope Playgrounds: A Look at Highs and Lows for the Swing Set

The fountains at newly refurbished J.J. Byrne playground on Fifth Avenue in Park Slope were a hit with this 2-year-old.
The fountains at newly refurbished J.J. Byrne playground on Fifth Avenue in Park Slope were a hit with this 2-year-old.
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DNAinfo/Leslie Albrecht

PARK SLOPE — With plentiful water features, activities for kids of all ages and ample seating for adults, the undisputed star of Park Slope's playgrounds is J.J. Byrne Playground.

The sprawling play area recently reopened after a lengthy renovation, and parents say the wait was worth it. The playground, on Fifth Avenue between Third and Fourth streets, was packed during summer's first heat wave in June.

"They put a lot of thought into this," Marcia Mello told DNAinfo.com New York while she was on a visit to the playground with her 6-year-old niece Meredith.

Mello said she appreciated that the numerous water features require a push of a button to operate, so they don't spray continuously and waste water as older sprinklers do.

In addition to aquatic fun, J.J. Byrne Playground gives a nod to its historical setting next to the Old Stone House, the site of the Battle of Brooklyn. At one interactive gameboard, kids can position British war ships and Continental Army troops.

The parenting blog Mommy Poppins dubbed J.J. Byrne a "destination playground" that's worth a visit even if you don't live nearby.

"My kid had a blast exploring this marvelous playground and so did I. ...A lot of the equipment is just as much fun to look at as play on," the reviewer wrote.

Just a few blocks away is Park Slope Playground, tucked behind P.S. 282 between Berkeley Place, Lincoln Place, Fifth and Sixth avenues. While it doesn't have shiny new equipment like J.J. Byrne, it gets the job done, dad Doug Bowman said.

"I wouldn't go out of my way to come here, but the kids like it," Bowman said. "There are things to climb on and there are amenities."

As Mommy Poppins put it, Park Slope Playground is "not spectacular, but very popular with locals."

The advantages of this playground include its proximity to P.S. 282, and several nearby delis for drinks and snacks. There are bathrooms, but not the kind you'd want to linger in, Bowman, the father of 4-year-old twins, said.

A curvy metal slide is popular, but with little shade nearby it quickly becomes too hot to use on warmer days. Water features are basic sprinklers, and there are no "big kid" swings. A tire swing in one corner disappeared at least a year ago and was never replaced.

"It's a decent, convenient playground," Bowman said.

The Park Slope Playground was in the news in 2011 when parents said they were fed up with pot-smoking teens who take over the playground after dusk.

In nearby Prospect Park, parents have seven playgrounds to choose from, with the Vanderbilt Playground winning a rave review on neighborhood blog Park Slope Parents.

The play area, located just inside the park on Prospect Park Southwest and Vanderbilt Street, reopened after a renovation in 2010. Parents were pleased with equipment like the spinning platter and "giant geodesic rope climbing structure." One negative for this playground: a lack of bathrooms, though port-a-potties were stationed just outside when DNAinfo.com New York visited recently.

In Windsor Terrace, Greenwood Playground on East Fifth Street and Fort Hamilton Parkway attracts kids and adults of all ages with basketball courts and softball fields. But it's also got some offbeat features, such as a population of house sparrows, and roller derby fitness classes for adult women. The "derby fit" classes meet on Saturday mornings and promise a total body workout that builds muscles used in roller skating.

A volunteer group arranges programming for Greenwood Playground, such as May's Green-Woodstock event. This summer Greenwood Playground will host its first-ever concert by
kids' band Moona Luna, according to the Friends of Greenwood Playground Facebook page.