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UWS Playground Blamed for Kids' Injuries Gets New Redesign Plan

By Emily Frost | May 19, 2014 4:24pm
 The multilevel feature, part of the original design, will be preserved as will the amphitheater. 
Playground 89 Redesign
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UPPER WEST SIDE — A newly released design for a "dangerous" West 89th Street playground includes the preservation of historic features while attempting to make it safer and more accessible for children, according to plans released by the Parks Department.

Nearly a year after the Parks Department first publicly presented a redesign plan for Playground 89 at P.S. 166, at the behest of parents worried about children suffering injuries due to an uneven surface, the agency has released a new plan that maintains more of its original look, the department said.

The first redesign, approved by Community Board 7 this past summer, proposed flattening the West 89th Street playground and eliminating a sloped hill made of loose blocks, which some parents said was the source of frequent injuries, as well as reducing the size of the amphitheater.

But the newest design, created in conjunction with architects M. Paul Friedberg and Associates, which created the original version in 1967, preserves the playground's upper level and curved amphitheater — features that one group of parents and resident fought hard to keep.

However, in place of a curved hill made of stone blocks that some parents felt was a safety hazard, the designers have added an ADA-accessible ramp linking the two play areas.

The design also separates the two areas with handrails and increases the square footage of the flat surface. Parents had complained that children raced up and down the hill, often tripping in the process. 

Officials from P.S. 166 and the school's PTA did not respond to requests for comment.  

But the group that opposed the original redesign said it's happy with the new plans.

"Friends of Playground 89 is very pleased that the new design preserves multiple play areas while updating the amphitheater to meet current ADA guidelines," the group, which is a collection of residents and P.S. 166 parents, said in a statement. "We are grateful to Mr. Friedberg for, once again, gifting the community with a beautiful playground which many children will enjoy for years to come." 

The new design will be formally presented at a Community Board 7 meeting at the Goddard Riverside Community Center on Thursday, May 22, at 6:30 p.m. Community members will have an opportunity to weigh in on the plans before the board's parks, environment and education committees vote on the plans.