LOWER EAST SIDE – The city on Friday kicked off extensive renovation projects for two run-down playgrounds, which will bring brand new play equipment and ball courts to local kids by the fall of next year.
The Parks Department joined elected officials and community leaders to break ground on long-awaited upgrades to the Sol Lain and Henry M. Jackson playgrounds — the first Manhattan parks to be reconstructed under the city’s $130 million Community Parks Initiative to fix up small green spaces in low-income neighborhoods.
“Parks are so important, but playgrounds are really special,” said Manhattan Deputy Borough President Matthew Washington, before ceremonially tossing a shovelful of dirt onto the newly-christened Sol Lain Playground.
“To see the community come together to invest in these playgrounds, to see the administration and elected officials say, ‘We’re going to invest in playgrounds, we want to make sure our children, our families have places to play, to have a good time’ — that is so important, and so critical.”
Students of neighboring elementary school P.S. 134 will soon enjoy new play areas, swings, a spray shower, a basketball court, and a mini-running track, as well as a community garden where the children will grow their own fruits and vegetables.
While the year-long construction on the site will deprive the students of a space for recess in the meantime, the school’s principal said the rewards reaped in the following school year will be well worth the wait.
“I’m excited about this project across the board, not only because we will have a fantastic new playground, and not only because we’ll have a phenomenal community garden,” said principal Daniel Kim. “But for this upcoming year, we’ll be able to help them experience, and watch, and practice patience, and to see every day outside their window a brand new park emerging from the concrete ground.”
The Henry M. Jackson Playground, sitting a block away from Sol Lain on Henry Street, will get three new basketball courts of varying sizes, a mini-running track and a volleyball area, plus resurfacing to the existing handball court.
Both parks will receive new infrastructure such as pavements, curbs, fences and gates, drinking fountains, and lighting.
The new vision for the play spaces is the result of a series of community input sessions launched at the start of 2015 to gather feedback on neighborhood needs for the parks.
The nearby Luther Gulick Park will also receive significant upgrades thanks to the Community Parks Initiative. Though still in the design phase, construction is expected to kick off in spring 2017.