UPPER WEST SIDE — Mariners' Playground in Central Park is slated for a $1.5 million makeover next year that will bring back some of its original features from when it was built in 1936, according to the Central Park Conservancy.
Located just past the park's Mariners' Gate entrance at West 84th Street, the playground was commissioned by Robert Moses as one of his 18 original playscapes for the park.
When it was built, the playground did not have a fence around it but used benches to cordon off the area. Children climbed on playhouses, played with sand tables and splashed around in a water fountain.
The playhouses have since been replaced by a metal jungle gym which was installed in the late 1990s and a 7-foot black fence encloses the area.
The upcoming renovation will restore some of the playground's initial features. For instance, the current tall fences will be removed and replaced by a sprinkling of benches and a shorter pipe railing, according to Lane Addonizio, the associate vice president for planning for the Conservancy.
The Conservancy is also planning to remove the freestanding playground equipment and replacing it with the miniature playhouses to mimic the original structures that stood there when the playground was first built. New spring toys, spinners, a slide tower, climber and a tunnel would be put in as well.
In addition, the playground's single sprinkler post will be replaced by a network of interactive water features that will shoot water when children press a button. The reconstruction will also double the number of swings and include a new sandbox with a built-in water feature that kids can use to mold the sand.
Mariners' Playground underwent a modest renovation in the late 90s but the Conservancy is working to comprehensively modernize 16 of the park's 21 playgrounds, while still maintaining the unique character they had when they were built, said Addonizio during a presentation of the plan at Community Board 8's parks committee meeting on Thursday.
The reconstruction is expected to start in the spring of 2016 and should take six months to complete, Addonizio said.
The committee voted to approve the plan this week with a stipulation that the Conservancy agrees to place a plaque at the playground detailing the history of Seneca Village — Manhattan's first community of African American property owners, located from 81st to 89th streets between Seventh and Eighth avenues, which is now a section of Central Park.
The reconstruction still needs approval from the city's Landmarks Preservation Commission before work can begin, Addonizio added.