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'Drab' Gowanus Playground Will Get $2.5 Million Makeover, Parks Dept. Says

By Leslie Albrecht | September 23, 2016 2:56pm | Updated on September 26, 2016 8:32am
 A rendering of a renovated Ennis Playground on 11th Street and Second Avenue.
A rendering of a renovated Ennis Playground on 11th Street and Second Avenue.
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NYC Parks

GOWANUS —  One of the neighborhood's few public parks is getting a long-awaited renovation that will bring new greenery and play spaces to the under-used area.

The Parks Department is planning a $2.5 million upgrade for Ennis Playground, the small, mostly concrete park tucked between 11th and 12th streets near Second Avenue.

The proposed redesign will outfit the park with new basketball courts, swings, separate play structures for little kids and bigger kids, benches, a spray fountain and a swath of artificial turf.

The new park will also have gardens and an underground system to sop up stormwater — a way to help keep pollutants out of the nearby Gowanus Canal.

The Parks Dept. presented the plans to the Community Board 6 parks committee this week and expects to put the project out to bid in spring 2017, a Parks spokeswoman said. The major overhaul will take time — construction isn't slated to start until 2018 and will close the park for an entire year.

The wait will be worth it, said Community Board 6 parks committee chair Glenn Kelly.

"It's magnificent," Kelly said of the plan. "They really packed a lot of features into a pretty small space that I think will serve the community well."

The existing park is a "drab and boring" space that works as a quick lunch break spot for local workers but doesn't beckon to families with children or seniors, Kelly said. The renovation will turn the park into more of a neighborhood amenity, he said.

"I can imagine that many people in the community didn't go this park because it wasn't very inviting," Kelly said. "This is going to be their park now."

The planned renovation comes as the first new residential development on the canal is bringing more people to Gowanus. The city is considering a rezoning of the area that will likely allow for more residential development.

"We're so happy that Ennis Playground is finally getting the attention it deserves," said Paul Basile of the Gowanus Alliance, a local merchants group.

"We appreciate [Brooklyn Borough President] Eric Adams and [City Councilman] Brad Lander for fully funding it," Basile said. "We know how limited the resources are."

Adams' office contributed $650,000 to the project and Lander's office pitched in $1.85 million.

The Gowanus Alliance has been an Ennis Playground booster for the past several years and spruced up the park with the help of the Gowanus Canal Conservancy. The groups planted trees and hosted community cleanups there. The Alliance even created a set of animated characters, the Gowanus Gang, to advocate for the playground in online videos.

Basile said his next challenge is to work with the Department of Sanitation to get garbage truck drivers to stop parking on the sidewalk outside the park. The trucks are smelly and attract rats, he said.

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NYC Parks Department Ennis Playground Renovation Plan by lalbrecht3207 on Scribd