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Hudson River Park Trust Unveils Plans For New Chelsea Waterside Playground

By Maya Rajamani | November 13, 2016 5:48pm
 A giant pipefish-shaped climbing structure and slide will be the centerpiece of the new playground.
Chelsea Waterside Play Area Renderings
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CHELSEA — A giant pipefish-shaped climbing structure and slide will be the centerpiece of the Chelsea Waterside Play Area after its $2 million revamp.

The Hudson River Park Trust unveiled renderings of the soon-to-be-revamped playground at West 23rd Street, past 11th Avenue, at Community Board 4’s Waterfront, Parks and the Environment Committee meeting Thursday evening.

Safety, water and sand features, seating and shade were among the priorities taken into account during the design process, Friends of Hudson River Park Playground Committee member Greg Wasserman said.

“We wanted it to be unique,” he said. “A lot of kids that use this playground don’t have the chance to go to Chelsea Piers or some of the other fancy playgrounds around town.”

The trust discussed the new playground’s design and features with public schools, sought feedback from members of the Friends of Hudson River Park’s playground committee, and invited public input at events including a “charrette” at the Hudson Guild in January, he said.

The “pipefish tower” — designed to look like a creature that is native to the Hudson River — will sit at the center of the playground, Scott Streeb of Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates told CB4’s committee.

“It’s really a fantastic and unique piece of play equipment,” Streeb said. “It may not look like monkey bars, but there is that upper body strength [required], there’s balance beams, nets, crawling, climbing, imagining and really everything that you would want in a play structure.”

The new playground will feature a playhouse and sand area and a water maze for older children, he said.

“We wanted to have a lot of spray jets… but we also want to have more quiet moments where children can kind of be off on their own, and not be in the craziness of the jet sprays,” he said.

Seating for parents will be situated throughout, and parents standing at the entrance to the playground will “be able to see into every single space” to keep track of their children, he noted.

The playground will also repurpose materials including rams heads that were once attached to the facade of a slaughterhouse at West 39th Street and 11th Avenue.

The plan preserves all of the playground’s existing trees, Streeb noted.

HRPT budgeted a little more than $2 million for the playground renovations, Wasserman said.

Fundraising so far has brought in “a little below $2 million,” he added.

Ideally, construction would start in the fall of 2017 and continue through the winter, with the new playground opening in the spring of 2018, another representative at the meeting said.

“One of our goals was to offer atmosphere and create a sense of well-being and comfort,” Streeb said. “Three hundred and sixty-five days a year, hopefully kids will want to come here.”