Residents celebrate new Williamsbridge Oval playground

Norwood residents finally celebrated the opening of the playground at the Williamsbridge Oval. But basketball may have to wait.

The Parks Department, Friends of Woodlawn Oval, Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz, Senator Gustavo Rivera students from St. Brendan’s School and other neighborhood residents officially cut the ribbon on the new playground at a ceremony on Tuesday, November 15.

Much of the playground has been open to the public since late spring. But it has encountered many snafus along the way, some of which are still waiting to be resolved.

The playground’s new basketball courts are still yet to open, both because the concrete was not pored properly. Upon inspection, the Parks Department ordered that the courts remain closed until the concrete was redone. As of Tuesday, November 22, the courts are still not open because painters are waiting for a warm, dry day to paint the surface.

“I’m very frustrated to say the least. We were pushing for the basketball courts and they’re important to the community,” Friends of Williamsbridge Oval member Elisabeth von Uhl said. “I respect the fact that (Parks Bronx Borough Commissioner Hector) Aponte has very high expectations for the quality of the work. I don’t know if my frustration is with Parks or with the construction company.”

Aponte also expressed disappointment with the situation and the contractors hired to build the courts.

“We have standard details and standard specifcations that specify things like the methods and standards of building something,” Aponte said. He noted that the way the courts’ concrete surface was originally pored, it would have cracked and not have been the smooth surface needed for basketball.

“My position is if I pay for for a Ford, I don’t want a Yugo. That’s been the problem,” he said.

The overall upgrade cost $6.1 million and was paid from $14 million in mitigation funds allocated to the Williamsbridge Oval as part of the Croton Water Filtration Plant construction. Those funds are also paying for a rec center at the Oval that is still under construction. The two projects represent the end of the funds for the Williamsbridge Oval.

Von Uhl said that aside from the problem with the basketball courts, she was happy with the upgrades.

“The playground is gorgeous,” she said. “And I was very happy with the ribbon cutting. It was well attended, I appreciate the attention that was put into the park.”

Bill Weisbrod can be reached via e-mail at or by phone at (718) 742-3394.

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