Like many of her Soundview neighbors, Councilwoman Annabel Palma grew up playing at the Parque De Los Ninos playground through all four seasons.
“I grew up on Boynton and Watson, so as a child, this was my playground,” Palma said. “This is where my mom used to bring my brothers and I to play in the summer time. I can look back at old pictures I have at home of me in the park with mountains of snow.”
Palma was among several city and state elected officials who attended an Wednesday, August 24 groundbreaking ceremony announcing $1.6 million in major renovations to the park that should be completed by next summer.
Funding was obtained by Palma and Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. through the mayor’s office.
Diaz also recalled playing in the park on a little league team with his brother.
“We won the championship in 1980 and 1981, and we have fond memories of playing in this park,” Diaz said. “My two sons, they practiced here with the Bronx River Bulldogs and played Pop Warner football.”
Renovation plans include playground equipment and safety surfacing for children ages 2 to 5 and 5 to 12, a spray shower and swings. The seating area of the park will get be receiving new fencing, landscaping and new benches.
NYC Parks commissioner Mitchell J. Silva announced a second phase of the project would see the softball field renovated with natural grass outfield and a rubberized all-weather track with a multi-purpose infield, as well as adult exercise equipment.
The playground renovations, which will be completed by next summer, are part of $34 million in projects planned for the Bronx, and Silva made children in attendance from the local camp program to promise to take care of them.
“We are going to invest a lot of money here and we need you to tell your friends that once we start to restore this, we want to make sure you take care of it because this park is for you,” he said.
The playground, located on the corner of Morrison and Watson avenues and originally known as the James Burke Ballfields, was completed in 1956.
It was given its current moniker in 1995 to honor six neighborhood children killed in the late eighties.
Palma credited Silva and Bronx Parks Commissioner Iris Rodruiguez-Rosa for getting various parks projects past the planning stage to fruition.
“For many years I heard complaints that we didn’t have enough funding for our parks, that we didn’t care about our parks, but that isn’t the case,” Palma said. “We put a lot of funding into the parks but the projects were just taking longer to move along. Under these two commissioners we have been on a fast track.”
Not to be left out of the celebration, Assemblyman Marcos Crespo promised to sponsor a neighborhood youth Olympics Day games once the park renovations were complete.
“There will be games and tournaments, hot dogs and hamburgers – we can’t grill them here but we can bring them in,” he said.