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Autism-Focused Playground With Sensory Equipment Coming to Staten Island

By Nicholas Rizzi | July 19, 2017 9:48am | Updated on July 19, 2017 11:03am
 Borough President James Oddo (center), Councilman Joe Borelli and Staten Island Parks Commissioner Lynda Ricciardone announced a new sensory playground will come to Prescott Playground in Huguenot.
Borough President James Oddo (center), Councilman Joe Borelli and Staten Island Parks Commissioner Lynda Ricciardone announced a new sensory playground will come to Prescott Playground in Huguenot.
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HUGUENOT — An Irvington Street playground will get about $4 million for a redesign with new equipment that provides sensory stimulation to help children with autism, officials announced Tuesday.

The city plans to add new playground equipment to Prescott Playground that will stimulate touch, sight and hearing senses for kids.

While the new gear can be used by all kids, it is designed especially for children on the autism spectrum and with sensory processing disorder to improve their balance, social interaction and physical coordination.

"We're really proud of parks and we want our parks to be used by all Staten Islanders," said Borough President James Oddo. "We want all of our kids to enjoy our parks. We want all our kids with varying degrees of abilities to enjoy our parks."

Sensory equipment that could head to the park could include a sand table, a roller table, outdoor musical instrument boards and more.

Another nearby park, Ida Court, is set to get some similar equipment first, but Prescott Playground will be the first one in the borough to heavily focus on them, the Parks Department said.

The project was funded by a $3.9 million allocation from Oddo along with a $100,000 boost from Councilman Joe Borelli. 

Prescott Playground was originally built in 1967 then renovated 20 years, said Lynda Ricciardone, Parks Department commissioner for Staten Island. It was renamed after Christopher Prescott — the first city EMS member to be killed in the line of duty — in 1997.

Officials originally wanted to build a sensory playground at Ida Court, but the project hit some snags and eventually the city chose Prescott instead because it's in a quieter area that will be better suited for children with autism, said Ricciardone.

The city does not have a date for when the new project would open but are aiming to hold visioning sessions with parents and members of the special needs community to get ideas on how the playground should look like and what equipment to get in September.