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Spray Showers and Adult Fitness Area Coming to East Harlem Playground

By Gustavo Solis | June 29, 2015 1:06pm
 James Weldon Playground is set to get a multi-million dollar overhall next year.
James Weldon Playground
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EAST HARLEM — James Weldon Johnson Playground is getting a multi-million dollar overhaul next year, after a slew of temporary repairs were made there in April, officials said.

The Parks Department is planning a $3- to $10-million renovation of the park, at East 115th Street and Lexington Avenue — including a new playhouse, spray shower, swings and adult fitness center, according to a preliminary design released by the agency.

The plan will also revamp the existing basketball court, the agency said.

In December, the Parks Department spent $24,000 on quick fix to get the space ready for the summer. The handball and basketball court got a fresh coat of paint, and new benches were added at that time. Those repairs were completed April.

But larger issues like repairing the cracked concrete, will be addressed when the park is fully rebuilt next year, Parks Department spokesman Sam Biederman said.

“We know this park needed immediate attention before we under took larger projects,” he said.

Park goers welcomed the April repairs, saying it's the best the park has looked in years.

“It was smooth, no cracks or anything,” Mark Melendez, 18, said of the repainted basketball court. "It was the best I've ever seen it."

But there is still need for a more permanent fix, Melendez added.

"Now if you play these cracks [in the pavement] mess you up," he said. "I’ve tripped over them so many times.”

Sharmean Howard, 58, was glad to hear that the initial designs included more play equipment for children. She used to take her kids to the playground and now takes her grandchildren. 

In particular, she hopes the swings or spray showers will replace a "useless" camel sculpture that currently sits in the middle of the park.

“That camel doesn’t do anything, it just sits there,” she said. “How are children supposed to play on it?”

Melendez, who plays shooting guard for his high school team at Urban Assembly School for Wildlife Conservation, would like to see a three-point line added to the basketball court as well.

“Right now nobody knows if it’s a three or not,” he said.