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Hudson Yards Park Will Have Playground for Teenagers

By Mathew Katz | July 31, 2013 7:00am
  The area, part of Hudson Park and Boulevard, will try to appeal to teens with swings and more.
Park Will Have Designated Teen Area
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HUDSON YARDS — Teenagers are getting a playground to call their own in a new park that will rise as part of the massive Hudson Yards development.

The teen play space will feature a large jungle gym with ropes, along with spinning "centrifuges" similar to ones popular with teenagers in Union Square Park, according to the latest version of the plan. The equipment is all designed to be big enough for teenagers to climb.

"I think it's really important because teens, a lot of the time, don't have spaces to go," said Erica Baptiste, community planner for Community Board 4, which requested the dedicated space for teenagers based on feedback from local residents.

"At least they can go here and it's actually designed with them in mind."

The playground is part of a four-block open space in Hudson Yards called Hudson Park and Boulevard, running from West 33rd Street to West 37th Street, between 10th and 11th avenues. Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, Inc. designed the park, including the teen play space, with input from Community Board 4.

The northernmost section of the new park, which will contain the teen playground along with a play area for toddlers and some all-ages swings and benches, will cost $35 million.

"We're told young teenage girls, ages 13 to 16, love swings, so they put a a swing set there," Baptiste said.

While the toddler play space will only be open to children and the adults accompanying them, the teen area will be open to anyone.

No timeline has been set for the new park space because it is dependent on the completion of the surrounding Hudson Yards development. The project's first buildings won't be complete until at least 2015.

Community Board 4 decided to support a new space for teenagers after facing some criticism for asking the Parks Department to get rid of a basketball court popular with local teens at Ramon Aponte Park in an upcoming renovation, replacing it with a so-called "Stroller Center."

Baptiste said those criticisms were heard in the board's approach to this park, which will be built specifically with teens in mind.

"The way they designed it, it's inviting to a lot of different users, not just teens — but we wanted to make sure they had a space," she said.

The entire Block 4 section of the park is a new addition to the original plan. Until a few months ago, the park was going to be only three blocks long, but board members won a fourth from the city after demanding a replacement for the roughly 20,000 square feet of public space that will be taken by an expanded plan for the Hudson Yard Culture Shed.

While the new park will be surrounded by the soaring skyscrapers of Hudson Yards, Community Board 4 wanted to make sure it was accessible to the larger Hell's Kitchen community.

An original plan — rejected by the board — would have had dense, plant-covered areas surrounding it, similar to Teardrop Park in Battery Park City. Instead, the board asked for the park space to be more visible.

"Our top priority is that we wanted it open and accessible to the larger community and not just those immediately surrounding it," said Jean-Daniel Noland, co-chair of the board's Clinton/Hell's Kitchen Land Use Committee.

The board will vote on the park proposal at its meeting Wednesday evening.