NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver, FAICP, yesterday joined Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., Community Board 2 District Manager Bobby Crespo, and kids from the West Bronx Recreation Center to break ground on phase II of reconstruction at Playground 52 in the South Bronx.
This is the second phase of reconstruction at Playground 52, which will include the instillation of new play equipment for ages 2 – 12 and adult fitness equipment, including ADA accessible exercise structures. Larger plant beds and new plants will also be added. Funding for phase II was provided by the Mayor’s office in the amount of $5,300,000.
“Through the Community Parks Initiative, we are transforming neighborhoods that have long been overlooked,” said NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver, FAICP. “Playground 52 is much more than a playground—it’s a huge park that will act as an outdoor living room for this neighborhood. Here, the community will come together to exercise, play, enjoy events at the amphitheater and try out tricks at the new skate park.”
Both phases of the project are expected to be complete by the first quarter of 2018. The first phase—which began in May 2016 and is still underway—includes a $3,350,000 makeover of the amphitheater, basketball courts, and a new skate park. Phase I was funded with $1.725 million from Borough President Diaz, $1 million from the City Council, and $310,000 from the Mayor. The comfort station is also being renovated as part of a separate, multi-site Mayoral funded project.
Playground52 is one of the more than 60 sites identified for improvement through the Community Parks Initiative (CPI)—a multi-faceted program to invest in community parks that have not undergone significant improvements in decades. CPI is investing $318 million in capital dollars through 2019 to make renovations on more than 60 under-resourced public parks located in New York City’s densely populated and growing neighborhoods with higher-than-average concentrations of poverty.
“Projects such as the renovation of Playground 52 have a positive impact on the quality of life in our borough, and are important in helping improve the health of our Bronxites by providing access to parkland. We want Bronx residents to get out of their homes to enjoy the park and its facilities,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. “I am proud to have provided capital funding for the renovation of Playground 52, which has been not just a community park but also a destination for host of cultural events, including concerts and dance competitions.”
"I remember when I was young, my sister and I played at Playground 52, until it fell into disrepair and became unsafe," said Council Member Rafael Salamanca, Jr. "That's why it's great to see, after years of community advocacy, this playground rebuilt for future generations of children."
Playground 52 is named for the advocacy group “52 People for Progress”. First assembled in 1980 under the direction of Al Quinones, the group invested thousands of hours improving their neighborhood park, and has been actively involved in this renovation project. 52 People for Progress is an early example of an advocacy group that joined forces with Parks to help revitalize and maintain parkland within their community.