Bay Ridge parks see wave of investment for second consecutive year

Russell Pederson Playground near Fort Hamilton High School received more than $5 million in funding in the latest budget negotiation.
NYC Parks

A pair of popular Bay Ridge parks will see a wave of investment in the upcoming budget year with more than $9 million allocated to revamp the area greenspaces that have seen decades of neglect. 

“Many of our local playgrounds haven’t been updated in 30 years,” said Bay Ridge Councilman Justin Brannan, who helped allocate the funding.

This year’s budget includes $5.4 million for a redesign of Russell Pederson Playground near Fort Hamilton High School, and another $4 million for the construction of four new basketball courts and bleachers at nearby Owl’s Head Park, the freshman councilman announced.

This is the second consecutive year Brannan has helped secure funds to revamp his hometown greenspaces — a feat more important than ever, he said, as local parks serve as an outlet for cooped-up Brooklynites during the ongoing pandemic, and city agencies like the Parks Department face severe budget cuts.

“As a kid growing up in an apartment building, the park was my backyard. I spent so much time in Shore Road Park as a kid, I probably should have started paying rent,” the councilman said. “And now, with our parks and playgrounds more popular than ever before, I’ve made it my business to make sure that all of these precious open greenspaces and play areas finally get the love and attention they so desperately need and deserve.”

The head of the Brooklyn bureau of the city’s Parks Department also lauded the good news, and boasted the heightened importance of funding for local greenspaces.

“Despite these unprecedented times, we remain as committed as ever to bring world-class parks and amenities to Brooklyn,” Brooklyn Parks Commissioner Marty Maher told Brooklyn Paper, adding that, thanks to local elected officials, community members and the agency’s capital team, Parks has completed projects “from Brownsville to Canarsie” in recent months — with several notable renovations entering the final stages of the capital process.

“We have also re-imagined our community outreach as a part of the capital design process and recently launched online community input sessions — responsive to the need for social distancing during the current COVID-19 pandemic,” Maher said, noting that recent virtual community input sessions for parks in Brannan’s district helped compile crucial feedback.

On Oct. 8, locals weighed in on the redesign of Owl’s Head Park, John J. Carty Park and Vinland Playground — all of which will see a collective $13.5 million poured int them as part of last year’s budget negotiation.

“We are pleased to share that the recent community input sessions were a success!” Maher told Brooklyn Paper. “They were well attended events thanks in part to the outreach done by our local elected officials, community boards, and park stewards. Their involvement coupled with our new virtual platform helped us reach the broader community and gather diverse and meaningful feedback.”

Parks will work with community boards to review and finalize designs over the next year, Maher said.