KIPS BAY — The children at P.S. 116 in Kips Bay were treated to a special surprise on the first day of school: a repaved, repainted and reopened playground.
The play space at P.S. 116, located on East 32nd Street between Second and Third avenues, has been undergoing renovations since this past fall, after City Council members Dan Garodnick and Rosie Mendez secured $375,000 to make over the outdoor area.
On Wednesday, Garodnick cut the ceremonial ribbon at the playground, along with the school’s principal, Jane Hsu.
"Would it be in poor taste if I used the slide?" Garodnick asked at the event. "It probably wouldn't be dignified. But this place does look great."
The playground was closed for several months of this past school year while the space was being repaved, said Marlowe Bamberger, president of the PTA at P.S. 116, meaning that parents lost their pick-up and drop-off location for part of the year and children were forced to play inside.
“This is really our functioning front door,” Bamberger said of the playground. “It’s a central meeting spot for so many things.”
During those months of closure, Bamberger said the school moved drop-off and pick-up to its East 33rd Street entrance, working with Community Board 6 to get that block closed to vehicle traffic for several hours each school day to keep the area safe for the masses of departing children.
The PTA fielded its share of complaints about the situation, Bamberger said.
“But the end result was what kept us going,” she added. “Once it's done, it’s a better place.
The repaving work on the playground leveled out the space and made it safer for children to run around, Bamberger said. The ground was also completely repainted, with bright colors delineating a miniature track and games such as hop scotch.
During the playground unveiling on Wednesday, the day before P.S. 116 welcomed children back to school, roughly 50 kids came to scope out the new space, Bamberger said.
Some took to the track immediately, darting around the playground, Bamberger said. Others were drawn to the hop scotch board and the colored squares on the ground, creating games where players were only allowed to step on certain colors.
“It was just so funny to watch the kids’ play patterns change just by painting the ground,” Bamberger said. “The kids are so excited.”