A total eclipse of the park: Sheepshead Bay park plagued by years of flooding

A massive puddle consumes Sheepshead Bay’s Mellett Playground – forcing the city to block it from public use.
Photo by Jessica Parks

Sheepshead Bay’ Mellett Playground — which has been plagued by constant flooding since 2017 — will be closed for at least another year as the city works to remedy the drainage problems that have inundated the greenspace. 

“The water is disgusting,” said Peter Forte, who lived near the park on Avenue V and E. 14th Street. “And it’s sad because it’s the neighborhood park. We have been asking for it for years, and it needs to get fixed.” 

The Parks Department will spend between $1 million and $3 million to prevent flooding in the park with an upcoming renovation — which is expected to begin shortly after the project’s procurement phase ends in March, according to a Parks Department spokesperson.

Typical timelines for Parks Department construction projects suggest that the area’s youth will be locked out of the play area until at least Spring of 2021.

Greenspace gurus claim that they have made numerous attempts to drain the swamp over the past several years, but underlying structural issues have thwarted their attempts and made heavy construction necessary — forcing them to shutter the majority of the communal space.

Councilman Chaim Deutsch — who allocated funds for the park’s coming renovation — slammed the Parks Department for not finding a temporary band-aid to make the park immediately usable, and requested the agency expedite the project. 

“My funding allocation will pay for a permanent fix of the drainage system, but we need an effective, temporary solution — now,” said the councilman.

Over the last several years, locals have raised fears of children getting sick from splashing water — or possibly drinking the muddied liquid — and Deutsch said the neighborhood hangout is currently neither “safe or clean.” 

 “[The Parks Department] did — at my request — install a fence to block off the ponding, but that is simply not good enough,” said Deutsch. “I call upon the Parks Department to expedite the process of construction in the playground, in order to swiftly rectify this dangerous condition.” 

Neighbors are also furious about the faulty water fountains in-and-around the park that are still out of order despite Parks Department claiming they were working quickly to unclog the fountains’ drains in 2017. 

“Those aren’t fixed either,” Forte said.  “The fountain water sits stagnant, and no one can use them.”

The revitalization project’s exact completion date couldn’t be determined until the procurement phase has concluded, according to the Parks Department spokesman, who said the effort would provide several other benefits to the park on top of improved drainage — including a modernized jungle gym, patio furniture, working sprinklers, new lights, and improved landscaping.