Plans include skateboard ramps and larger theater
52 Park will get a long-needed facelift to add a skate park and make its playground safer, its basketball courts more playable and its theater more audience-friendly. Construction is slated to start in the fall of 2015.
For decades, the park on Kelly Street and Avenue St. John has been maintained by a volunteer organization, 52 People for Progress, which has kept the paint fresh and the gardens growing. But the major improvements the park needs are beyond the scope of what volunteers can accomplish.
“52 Park has become a neighborhood responsibility because our city doesn’t acknowledge we need help,” said Hunts Point resident Maria Pena. “It’s about time they come in, do some construction and make it nice so the neighborhood can take pride in it.”
Three years ago, the members of the skateboarding crew Eco Ryders asked Al Quinones, who heads 52 People for Progrress, if they could use 52 Park. Since then, they’ve made it their home.
Now the Parks Department will build ramps of pre-cast concrete, steel rails and a concrete platform for skateboarders to practice their turns and jumps.
The basketball courts are spider-webbed with cracks, making it a dangerous for people to play. Plans call for new asphalt pavement with painted white lines as well as new basketball backboards. Two sets of bleachers will flank the court, which will be fenced-in to separate it from the rest of the park.
The biggest changes will be made to the amphitheater, where performers play in warm weather. The bleacher seating will grow from 250 to 320 seats, and will be elevated to give more of the audience a full view of the stage. There will be space for another 180 spectators to bring folding chairs.
The total budget for the project is $2,725,000, which will come from Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.’s and City Councilwoman Maria del Carmen Arroyo’s discretionary funds, with the borough president contributing $1 million and the councilwoman the rest.
“Our community has been waiting for the 52 Park remodel for a long time” said Rafael Salamanca, district manager of Community Board 2. “The remodel will use the park space more effectively and hopefully more people will have access to it,” he added.
“I walk with my dog in 52 Park for many years and have yet to see anyone fix the cracks in the cement.” said Manuel Dia. “The children in this neighborhood deserve a safer and cleaner park to play in,” he added.
“Hurry up and put out the bids!” said Salamanca.