Construction has started on the new Grand Playground on the corner of West 181st Street and Grand Avenue.
Councilman Fernando Cabrera - who financed the $2,690,000 project - and other borough officials gathered on July 7 to share a few words on the project and break ground on the site.
“As you can imagine I’m excited today because it is going to happen,” Cabrera told the community members in attendance.
Discussions to revitalize the park began in 2010 and in 2011 and Cabrera began allocating funding to renovate the park.
However, he said as he was allocating funding, nothing was moving forward under the previous parks administration.
The councilman said under the new administration and NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver, this park and others are progressing.
The new park will feature a basketball court, a play area designed for children of various ages, and two entrances.
It will also have sprinklers and a seated area for seniors.
“We want to make sure when we have playspaces -we have an aging population in New York City - we want to make sure they have a wonderful green space where they can age beautifully and watch the children play but also just get outdoors and enjoy the green space,” said Silver.
Cabrera said the issues in connection to the park surrounded more than just the playground. Water from the park was running into residents’ homes.
“Now everyone is going to benefit including the neighbors whose property is adjacent to the playground,” said the council member.
Cabrera, like Silver, also touted how the park will be able to appeal to all ages.
“We have something for the seniors, we’re going to have something for the children, we’re going to have basketball for the teenagers,” he said.
Eduardo Hernandez, a park manager, grew up in the neighborhood.
Hernandez said, as he stood on Grand Avenue parallel to West 181st Street, the right side of the park was sunken in six or seven feet.
He added the park used to be all blacktop, with insufficient benches and one basketball hoop.
“I lived in this neighborhood for 21 years,” said Hernandez. “I’m really excited about this park.”
Kavan Brandon, parks and recreation committee chair for Community Board 5, was also happy to see a new park coming to the area.
“We don’t have as many playgrounds and park as some of the other districts,” said Brandon. “So it’s a great day when something like this happens because we have very limited space.”
He added, “I think we need more of this and the current parks administration and the councilman are doing a great job in making sure these parks are pursued.”