A 59-year-old Longwood playground is undergoing a $8.6 million transformation.
NYC Parks commissioner Mitchell J. Silver joined Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr.; Robert Crespo, Community Board 2 district manager and children from the West Bronx Recreation Center on Tuesday, August 22 to break ground on phase II of reconstruction at Playground 52.
The second phase of the 1.79-acre playground’s reconstruction will feature new playground equipment for ages two to 12 and adult fitness equipment including ADA accessible exercise structures.
Larger plant beds and new plants will be added to Playground 52.
Approximately $5.3 million was provided by the mayor’s office for phase II.
“Playground 52 is much more than a playground – it’s a huge park that will act as an outdoor living room for this neighborhood,” said Silver.
Both phases are anticipated to be completed by the first quarter of 2018.
Phase I, which began in May 2016 and is still underway, includes a $3.35 million renovation of its amphitheater, basketball courts and a new skate park.
Phase I was funded with $1.725 million from Diaz, $1 million from the City Council and $310,000 from the mayor.
Its comfort station is being renovated courtesy of a separate, multi-site mayoral funded project.
Playground 52 is one of more than 60 sites identified for improvement through the Community Parks Initiative, a multifaceted program to invest in community parks that have not undergone significant improvements in decades.
CPI is investing $318 million in capital dollars through 2019 to renovate more than 60 under-resourced public parks in NYC’s densely populated and growing neighborhoods with higher-than-average poverty concentrations.
“Projects such as the renovation of Playground 52 have a positive impact on the quality of life in our borough and are important in helping improve the health of our Bronxites by providing access to parkland,” expressed Diaz.
“I remember when I was young, my sister and I played at Playground 52 until it fell into disrepair and became unsafe,” shared Councilman Rafael Salamanca, adding. “That’s why it’s great to see, after years of community advocacy, this playground rebuilt for future generations of children.”
Bordered by Leggett Avenue, Kelly Street and St. John’s Avenue, the site was acquired by the city on February 14, 1958 to be used as P.S. 52’s playground.
The site was transferred to Parks on October 17, 1986.
Many parents became concerned when the playground’s equipment fell into disrepair which resulted in the formation of the advocacy group, 52 People for Progress.
Assembled in 1980 under Al Quinones’ direction, 52 PFP invested thousands of hours improving their neighborhood park.
On November 3, 1990, the playground was rededicated as ‘Playground 52’ in the group’s honor.
James Melendez, 52 PFP acting president, said Parks listened to 52 PFP and the public’s input regarding Playground 52’s renovation.
“Playground 52 follows Al’s vision for kids to have a safe haven and we’re all very excited to be getting our playground back soon,” expressed Melendez.