Sunset Playground reopens after renovation, expansion

Sunset Playground reopens after renovation, expansion
Photo by Georgine Benvenuto

It was a bright day for the green space!

Sunset Park residents cheered the Aug. 17 re-opening of their nabe’s new-and-improved Sunset Playground, which gives local children and their parents a larger, safer, and more accessible place to gather, according to residents.

“Our community has precious few parks, and because of that, we need to make sure the parks that we do have are modern, safe, and available to everybody in the community,” said Community Board 7 district manager Jeremy Laufer. “Particularly in this case, since the playground was enlarged, it allows more kids to use the facility at the same time.”

Local officials — including Councilman Carlos Menchaca (D–Sunset Park), who helped fund the $3.22-million renovation along with Mayor DeBlasio — gathered with area activists and neighbors to cut the ribbon to open the park after nearly 17 months of renovations.

After the grown-ups had their fun, kids climbed, swung, and tumbled all over the new equipment, which includes slides, swings, rope climbers, a sandbox area, and a spray shower.

Another Sunset Park resident whose son enjoyed zooming down the new slide on opening day said that before the renovations, the dilapidated recreation zone wasn’t fit for the community’s kids.

“It was filthy, it was old, it was broken down,” said Johanna Bjorken, mother of tot Sebastian Bjorken. “There wasn’t really much to engage younger kids, and they were constantly getting trampled by bigger kids.”

Laufer said the old playground not only needed the equipment upgrades and safety improvements, but also an expansion to accommodate the growing local population.

“It was quite frankly too small for the needs of this community,” he said.

Newly installed drinking fountains, fencing, and security lighting will make visits to the space easier on parents, while updated landscaping — including shade trees — will make sweltering days more bearable. Patrons of all ages can also take advantage of the public wifi installed throughout the park last month.

The renovated playground is the first of many improvements set for the neighborhood’s eponymous meadow over the next two years, which include updates to a separate children’s spray fountain on the opposite side of the park, according to Laufer.

In addition, the recreation center, adult fitness area, benches, and fencing will also see upgrades, and the paths will be repaved, he said.

Reach reporter Julianne McShane at (718) 260–2523 or by e-mail at jmcshane@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @juliannemcshane.
Grand opening: Councilman Carlos Menchaca and Borough Parks Commissioner Martin Maher lead the ribbon-cutting ceremony.
Photo by Georgine Benvenuto