Longfellow Park, also known as Longfellow Garden, was closed for 10 years.
But the first 70-degree day of the spring was met with children playing at a construction site on its lot.
The day, Tuesday, May 1, was the official ground breaking ceremony for the community park and the students from P.S. 75 took a trip down the block to see it all first hand.
“I didn’t know what we were going to see, maybe some flowers,” said 8-year-old Tafari Campbell as he waited to hear the details of the coming attraction.
“I’m just excited to spin around in circles and play,” added 7-year-old Idalia Brown.
The park in Foxhurst was nothing impressive prior to its closing, merely a patch of land with a sprinkler system in its center.
Its foundation was breaking and over the years, the park began to sink into the ground.
None of the children attending the ceremony witnessed the park’s decay before it was closed, but longtime residents did, and they welcomed the construction sounds as the rehabilitation got under way.
“This park is for the kids and the community, so when it’s finished, I’ll be watching it to make sure it stays clean,” said Eliza, who has lived in the building across the street for nearly 15 years.
Eliza, her 80-year-old mother, and their fellow neighbors, also attended the ceremony to learn more about the plans for the project.
“Nobody’s going to come to our park and make it dirty,” she continued.
Slated for completion in the fall of 2018, the park will provide more green relief to the community, which sits only a block from the Sheridan and Bruckner expressways and the IRT #6 train at Whitlock Avenue.
Longfellow Park will be entirely bordered by trees in its inner perimeter while vegetation areas will expand outwards to the sidewalks.
The project, which cost $3.25 million funded by the Office of the Mayor through the Community Parks Initiative, will include tree houses for kids, new bike racks, ample seating areas, a new sprinkler system to cool down in warmer weather, and even a mini stage.
The students from P.S. 75 even got to ceremoniously toss the dirt from the plot, literally participating in the project’s breaking ground.
Afterwards the students did their own groundbreaking cermeony on the park, in the way they knew best: with some chalk, some quality games of tag, and venturing through imaginary lands while unofficially claiming the territory for kids throughout the community.
“Today’s groundbreaking means a great deal to me,” said Councilman Rafael Salamanca, who recalled playing in the old sprinklers at Longfellow with his sister and friends. “I’m thrilled to see the first step in its revitalization.”
Most of the neighborhoods in the south and west Bronx were on the NYC Parks Departments’ list for park renovations and restorations, like Lyons Playground down the block from Longfellow, which was completed in April.
While the CPI Capital Projects are not yet complete, the investment and attention to other parks not already listed, continues.