Last Thursday, they met at the Park Church Co-op to discuss possible alternatives. Parents listed what they wanted to see in the temporary space, including adequate room to run, opportunity to explore local greenery, and water play in the summer.
Other items on the wish list include a dig area, toy shed, and activities bulletin and calendar.
“The reason that I called the meeting was so that plans could be in place when construction starts, so there isn’t time when there is no playground,” said Ingrid Bromberg Kennedy, a steering committee member with the McGolrick Park Neighborhood Alliance. “I also was interested in having other people be involved.”
The alliance was formed three years ago to advocate for funding and improvements to the park, which has “fallen into disrepair,” Kennedy said. One of their first initiatives was obtaining money to renovate the playground.
Through Councilman Stephen Levin’s participatory budgeting process and additional funding from Borough President Eric Adams’s office, the playground got the $2 million necessary for the overhaul.
The new playground already has a new design, completed last year, and now has a contractor. It’s slated to have all new playground equipment, tables, accessible ramps and seating.
Parks officials are expected to begin construction in the fall. According to the Parks Department website, construction could take 12 to 18 months.
Earlier this month, the Greenpoint Library on Norman Avenue also closed for a rebuild. It’s expected to reopen at the end of 2018.
Parents said with the temporary closing of both the library and playground, they were afraid their children wouldn’t have a place for recreation.
Susan Groppi, a Greenpoint resident who lives one block from the park, said she was “horrified” when she found out the playground would close for more than a year.
“My son’s almost five, and we’re there all the time,” Groppi said. “I had assumed they were going to do it in stages.
“When I found out it was a complete shutdown, there was a bit of panic,” she added. “What are we going to do for a whole year?”
Groppi said she understood that closing the playground for renovations makes sense and gets the job done faster. Although she was worried, she said the idea of a temporary playground makes her feel a lot better.
“There’s a really great community in the playground here,” she said. “That’s what I’m worried about us losing.”
Mostly, she said, she wants a space where her son can run around and see his friends.
“Hopefully, there will be something also cool,” Groppi said, “but for me, that’s the minimum.”
The next steps include coordinating with the Parks Department to ask for a designated playground space within McGolrick Park. Parents will soon put together concrete proposals from the array of ideas pitched at the meeting.
“I thought it was good to hear what everybody had in mind, I think there were a lot of really good ideas,” Groppi said. “I think the challenge will be figuring out what we can do, but I like that people were thinking creatively.”