Brooklyn’s Backyard is bulking up!
Prospect Park’s stewards will build a free al fresco fitness center in the meadow’s Parade Grounds, allowing locals to get fit on the city’s dime, according to the Ditmas Park lawmaker who allocated taxpayer funds towards constructing the facility.
“Providing free resources that make physical fitness accessible to the public is essential to the overall well-being of our community, and the addition of an adult-fitness area is an important step in that process,” said Councilman Mathieu Eugene, whose pledge of $750,000 funded the project entirely.
Leaders of the Prospect Park Alliance — the conservancy that oversees the green space in conjunction with the city — will manage the project, which will bring 12 pieces of outdoor exercise equipment including pull-up bars, concrete step-up blocks, and a balance beam to the meadow by next spring, according to Justine Heilner, the alliance’s senior landscape architect.
Some of the equipment will be handicap-accessible, according to Heilner, who said the fitness center will also feature a space for open-air classes equipped with a small, raised platform where yoga and other instructors can give a variety of lessons.
“The idea is to have a mix of traditional equipment, while keeping in mind that a lot of people are using body-based fitness to work out these days,” she said. “We wanted to make opportunities for that as well.”
Eugene’s cash will also be used to purchase special cooling machines not found in any other park across the five boroughs, Heilner said. The technology, which will be installed near the Parade Ground’s soccer fields, functions on a timer that allows it to regularly spray a watery mist park-goers can refresh themselves in before it evaporates into thin air, leaving no groundwater behind.
And alliance leaders hope the cooling system’s Prospect Park test run will inspire bigwigs at the city’s Department of Parks and Recreation to roll it out at other green spaces, according to Heilner.
“They’re used a lot in the south, where it’s hotter, but we’re the first ones to try it in New York City,” said Heilner. “I think the Parks Department is really interested to see how it works.”
What’s left of the funding will go towards other minor renovations in the green space’s Parade Grounds, including repairs to the volleyball court — which are already underway — as well as installing benches near the basketball courts, fixing drainage issues at the baseball field nearest Parade Place, and planting a few trees, according to an alliance spokeswoman.