LONGWOOD — A pile of dirt at a South Bronx playground will be transformed into basketball courts, a skate park and an amphitheater in less than a year under a $3 million construction project in the South Bronx.
Officials broke ground at Playground 52 on Tuesday morning, and phase one of the project, which consists of the new basketball courts, skate park and amphitheater, should be completed by June 2017, according to the Parks Department.
"We’re excited about the transformation that is going to happen here," said Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver, "and I’m confident that the community will be more than thrilled with the results."
Construction on phase two of the project should start in September and will consist of building a new swing set, a new spray shower and new playgrounds, along with renovating the playground's handball courts. That phase should be finished by fall 2017, according to the Parks Department.
Destiny Pope, 10, said she uses Playground 52 about three times a week and was very excited for the renovations, particularly the new skate park.
“I don’t know how to skate very well,” she said, “so now I can learn easier.”
Playground 52 is named after the advocacy group "52 People for Progress," which was founded in 1980 under the guidance of community leader Al Quinones.
The group put in thousands of hours to improve the playground, and Councilman Rafael Salamanca asked that it be renamed after Quinones at the groundbreaking.
"We would like to see this park renamed after Al Quinones," he said, "so if you could make that happen for us, you're going to make this community extremely proud."