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Parks Department Wants Community Input on Little-Known Gowanus Playground

By Leslie Albrecht | January 21, 2015 12:01pm
 Officials are asking what improvements locals want at Ennis Playground on 11th Street and Second Avenue.
Parks Dept. Wants Community Input on Little-Known Gowanus Playground
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GOWANUS — A little-known Gowanus playground is getting some attention from city officials.

Parks Department representatives and City Councilman Brad Lander are co-hosting a "listening session" on Thursday about Ennis Playground, a tiny park tucked mid-block between Second and Third avenues and 11th and 12th streets.

The goal of the meeting is to get community feedback on "desires for programs and features" at the pocket-sized playground, a Parks Department spokeswoman said.

There aren't any specific plans yet for changes at the park, and no funding has been set aside for capital projects there, the spokeswoman said. But locals hope the meeting is the first step toward putting Ennis Playground on the city's radar.

“We are really excited about the opportunity to think about revamping the park,” said Andrea Parker, executive director of the Gowanus Canal Conservancy. “It’s our one little park in the lower eastern Gowanus and we should try to get some money going into it."

Locals suggested improving the playground as a possible project for Lander's participatory budgeting program in 2014, but the idea didn't get enough votes to win funding.

Parker said Ennis Playground could blossom as a public space with a few tweaks, such as removing its cracked pavement. She'd like to see the asphalt replaced with a permeable surface that would absorb storm water. That step would make for a better play surface, and also help keep pollution from streaming into the nearby Gowanus Canal during heavy rains.

Irina Edelstein, an employee of the Gowanus Alliance, would like to see better lighting to improve safety at night, as well as an all-purpose field.

The Gowanus Alliance "adopted" the playground about three years ago and worked with the Gowanus Canal Conservancy to plant trees and a garden, Edelstein said. The groups also host cleanups and an annual community event there. Edelstein even created a set of animated characters, the Gowanus Gang, to advocate for the playground in online videos.

The latest video encourages residents to attend Thursday's meeting.

“If they see the community is interested and that the community needs this place, they will raise the priority of the playground,” Edelstein said.

The public listening session about Ennis Playground is at 6:30 p.m. on Jan. 22 at American Legion Post 1636, 193 Ninth St. RSVP at City Councilman Brad Lander's website.