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The city has plans to turn a blighted spot in Sheepshead Bay into a lush new park with a playground for the kids.
The shabby, overgrown lot at Brigham Street and Emmons Avenue will get a $3.65 million makeover to transform it into the long-awaited Brigham Street Park to serve the boom in families moving into the neighborhood.
“Many kids have moved into the high rise buildings in the immediate vicinity and it is critical that we find a safe venue for them to exercise and play,” said departing Councilman Lew Fidler (D–Canarsie), who funded the project from his discretionary budget.
The Parks Department says the park’s design is only a draft, but Fidler described the designs as “complete,” except for one hurdle — the approval of the Public Design Commission, expected in January.
The councilman has on occasion had harsh words for the commission — the agency that must sign off on any “permanent works of art, architecture and landscape architecture” proposed for construction on city-owned property — as it has frustrated Fidler’s park projects in the past, but in this case, he doesn’t expect any trouble.
“The design phase is complete except for the expected approval at the Public Design Commission, which will probably come next month,” said Fidler.
After the park’s plans are approved and a contractor selected, work should get underway in late 2014 or early 2015.
Construction of Brigham Street Park is planned for two phases, dividing the northern and southern halves, but Fidler said that work on both should get underway simultaneously.
The northern half of the new park, located just south of Emmons Avenue, will have all the fun stuff, with a playground featuring the Evo and Playbooster equipment that’s been popping up recently in parks such as the recently unveiled Canarsie Park Playground, which also received most of its funding through Fidler.
The play set will be joined by a sprinkler system — for the kids, not the grass — and a climbing contraption, which is called a “space ball” in the designs, but seems more appropriate for monkeying around.
There will be a path from the park’s entry plaza leading past the playground and a modest lawn, to a woody area of picnic tables and winding footpaths, ending with a fine view of Jamaica Bay.
The park will also feature a thick grove of trees separating the playground from the dilapidated buildings on the other side of Brigham Street, which are labeled in park’s design as “Unsightly Structure(s).”
The lot on Brigham Street has always been a park, although people not familiar with the area back in the 1960s wouldn’t know it, according to Bay Improvement Group president Steve Barrison.
“There was always a park there, but it’s been neglected, and we’re going to bring it back to life,” said Barrison.
After the park fell into ruin, efforts to renovate and reinvigorate the city-owned property began in the early 1990s, when the city promised to pay the land some attention.
According to Fidler, he was able to rope Bloomberg into giving the project $1.5 million in funding, after bringing up an old promise made by the mayor’s predecessors.
“I arranged for the Mayor to give $1.5 million, since, as I told him, this was the promise that the city made to this community over 20 years ago,” the councilman said.
©2014 Community Newspaper Group
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