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Renovations Will Close Two Upper West Side Playgrounds

By Emily Frost | April 16, 2013 2:25pm

UPPER WEST SIDE — Two of the most popular playgrounds in Central Park will close this summer to undergo millions of dollars in repairs, according to the Central Park Conservancy

Christopher Nolan, vice president of planning, design and construction at the Conservancy, told members of Community Board 7 Monday night that Adventure Playground and Wild West Playground will stay closed through the fall.

He said the conservancy chose to start the months-long renovation project smack in the middle of the summer, when kids are out of school, "because people vacation you don’t get the same concentrations" of bodies on the playgrounds.

Adventure Playground, situated just east of Central Park West and 67th Street, will shut down in July and remain closed for nearly five months while it undergoes $1 million in renovations, Nolan said.

Wild West Playground, at Central Park West and 93rd Street, is expected to close for nine months starting in September. When it reopens after a $3 million complete overhaul, every piece of play equipment will be replaced and its footprint will shrink by 1,300 square feet, officials said. 

The construction timeline concerned Community Board 7 member Elizabeth Caputo. 

"Is there a reason you’re not delaying construction until the fall when kids can’t use it [as much]?" Caputo asked.

Nolan described the changes to Adventure Playground as "modest" and said they would make the playground more compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, replace wood that has an arsenic-based coating and reopen elements like crawling tunnels that are closed and in disrepair. 

"The key to the Adventure Playground …is that it doesn’t have defined play," explained Nolan, who said the renovations would not disrupt this concept. 

Along with new drinking fountains, benches, and rubber surfacing, "there will be a significant landscape redevelopment," Nolan said .

A long-closed staircase and entryway will be removed, creating a single central entryway to the playground. Old concrete with rebar poking through also will be replaced. 

Much of Wild West Playground also features wood with arsenic-based coating and the Conservancy is replacing every element in the play space. 

"This is a marquee Central Park playground — we’re not looking to make changes for the sake of making changes," Nolan said

Modern, disc-like swings that allow for multiple users at the same time will be added, and the existing swing sets will become more integrated in the playground. 

water feature will be more accessible to those with mobility issues and the sprinklers will be user-activated, creating a more eco-friendly and interesting play feature, Nolan said.

The fence around the playground will be made of wire in the new design and set back, creating room for more landscaping and enhancing the feeling that visitors are in the park one of the Conservancy's prime goals in its playground upgrades. 

The renovations, as well as an upcoming makeover to the East 79th Street playground, are part of the Conservancy's "Central Play" plan, which utilizes private funding to "reconstruct and enhance" all 21 of the park's playgrounds.