Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Washington Park/JJ Byrne Playground Renovation

We've been receiving a lot of emails and tweets, asking what is happening at Washington Park/JJ Byrne Playground (5th Avenue between 3rd and 4th Streets). If you've been by there lately, you probably noticed the giant chain-link fence and construction equipment around the Fifth Avenue portion of the park.

So, what's going on?

We asked Kim Maier, Executive Director of The Old Stone House, to give us the inside scoop:

We're very excited that the park renovation has started. The playground construction phase will begin the week of May 16.

The renovation incorporates ideas that came out of numerous community listening sessions that were held in early 2008. It represents a 65% increase in play space. Funding for this project was provided by Borough President Marty Markowitz, former City Council members Bill DeBlasio and David Yassky, and current City Council members Brad Lander and Steve Levin. The original plan, and the impetus for this phase, was funded by the JM Kaplan Fund, through the efforts of the Old Stone House.

There will be a new main path through the center of the park starting at 5th Avenue. Water play will include an old-fashioned pump and a "runnel", as well as a low fountain. Play has been divided into three distinct areas - a fully enclosed toddler area near the Old Stone House on the Third Street sided of the Park that will be adjacent to a play area for smaller children with unique play equipment that incorporates some interpretive elements about the history of the site, and an area for older kids on the 4th Street side of the park. There is a small, half-moon shaped lawn area in front of OSH rimmed by benches, and the entire playground aspect of the park will be surrounded by fencing and a new understory garden with native and useful plants.

Construction is expected to last about one year, so we'll do updates on the project from time to time to see how things are going. We look forward to checking out the results of the renovation next spring!

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