The NYC Parks Department and Councilman Fernando Cabrera celebrated the ribbon cutting for a major renovation of Grand Playground earlier this month.
Cabrera was joined Monday, July 10, by Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver and borough parks commissioner Iris Rodriguez-Rosa at the site to celebrate the completion of the $2.6 million renovation project.
Renovations and additions to the Fordham Heights playground, first acquired by the city in 1979, include a seating area geared towards seniors, a new basketball court on the lower level, a spray shower for children and a special play area for children of different ages and two new entrances.
The celebration comes a year after work crews broke ground for the major renovation of the park.
Discussions to revitalize the park began as far back as 2010, and Cabrera had criticized the previous parks administration for a failure to get the project moving even as funding became available through his office.
“Grand Avenue Playground was one of the first parks community residents contacted me about because of the dire need for repairs,” Cabrera said. “Structural issues caused by years of neglect were affecting nearby properties. I’m happy that in one year, work has been completed and this space has been restored to the community for recreation and peaceful enjoyment,” said Cabrera.
Also on hand for the opening were children from Trabajamos Community HeadStart, a local headstart program in University Heights that will directly benefit from the renovated park.
“We are a school that does not have a playground,” said Naomi Ortiz, a teacher at the school. “We depend on the public playgrounds, so we were excited to see another park opening.”
The school cares for children all year long, and Ortiz said she looked forward to students using the new sprinklers during the summer and enjoying local nature in the fall.
“Our students are learning about the leaves turning colors and caterpillars turning into butterflies, so we depend on the parks for all of these things,” Ortiz said.
Silver thanked Cabrera for making the renovations possible.
The playground had long been in dire need of repairs, he said, and the parks department not only went beyond repairs to completely transform the space, but also did so under deadline.
“NYC Parks is working tirelessly to make sure Bronx communities have access to beautiful, top-notch parks,” Silver said.
Cabrera is also working with the parks department to renovate the Mt. Hope Gardens Park, located a few blocks away at Creston Avenue and East Burnside Avenue.
Renovations include the installment of a new playground area and equipment for children, as well as a new spray shower and an Americans With Disabilities Act-compliant drinking fountain.
Seating and planting areas will also be improved, while retaining walls will be renovated.
That project is slated to be completed in the spring of 2019.