Powering up! Playground ‘used as a urinal’ getting upgrades

Lenora W. Gomas (l) and Paul Curiale (r) advocated for Power Playground’s multipurpose space to be repurposed for adult fitness.
Photo by Jessica Parks

Reps with the Department of Parks and Recreation sat down with Flatlanders living around Power Playground on Thursday to discuss an upcoming renovation of the Avenue N park, which locals described as shady cesspool rife with drug use. 

“To be crude, it’s only used as a urinal,” said one Flatlander, while Councilman Alan Maisel called the court “completely disgusting.” 

Maisel is trying to secure $3.65 million to enhance the athletic courts located behind the children’s playground between E. 49th Street and Utica Avenue, and community members offered plenty of ideas on how to spend it, including construction of additional basketball courts, a soccer field, a running track, hockey rink, and a dog run, among others.

The head of a local nonprofit said the park attracts drunks and drug addicts due to poor lighting, and that the city should focus on building facilities for adults so as not to encourage kids to hang out there. 

“We want to see this for the adults,” said Paul Curiale, head of Millennium Development. “We want to see this because it’s not the most comfortable over here. Over here it gets a little lonely, it gets a little seedy.” 

The Parks Department listed locals recommendations for Power Playground.Photo by Jessica Parks

Locals insisted that the renovations come with a new bathroom, but Parks Officials said the $3.65 million they’re expecting won’t be enough to fund a new comfort station. In response, Maisel vowed to get more money to make the loo a reality before his term ends in two years. 

“The funding hasn’t been fully secured, so we will just have to get more money,” said Maisel. “We need an indoor bathroom, not an outdoor bathroom.” 

Some of the park’s pint-sized users recommended a skate park, a soccer field, more basketball courts, and a track, while Maisel said he has received requests for cricket and pickleball, a sport for seniors that’s sweeping through southern Brooklyn

Thursday’s meeting kicked off the project’s design phase, which according to the Parks Department typically takes about a year, and will be followed by a yearlong procurement phase and then another year of construction. 

Parks Department representative James Morris said the construction phase of the project is slated to begin in 2021 and wrap up the following year.