Last Wednesday night, the Parks Department hosted a visioning session for Bartlett Playground, the latest site chosen to be part of the mayor’s Community Parks Initiative (CPI). According to Davey Ives, chief of staff for Brooklyn parks, the playground will receive an $8.8 million investment.
“We’re excited to put some money and love into this park where it’s needed,” he said.
Ives said the park, which is located near Whipple Street and Flushing Avenue, has received minimal investment over the last two decades. The initiative selects local neighborhood parks that have higher-than-average concentrations of poverty to make parks more equitable throughout the five boroughs.
So far, the Community Parks Initiative has reconstructed 67 parks in 55 neighborhoods.
“It’s one of our older parks,” Ives said. “We’re looking to green it up, to make it more sustainable and really enliven this space. We’re looking for a place that can activate the community by design.”
According to officials, the design will take roughly a year to finalize. Construction will begin approximately in fall 2019, and the ribbon cutting will be in fall 2020 or spring 2021.
During the visioning session, residents split up into breakout groups to give their ideas. Some wanted more basketball courts, play equipment for young teens, and bench seating with shade. Others asked for a lockable perimeter fence, lights for the courts, and to move the spray shower area.
Kristen McConnell, who has lived in Williamsburg for three years, said her main priority is to make the playground more fun for her kids. She brings her young family there four times a week.
“The playground equipment is kind of old and boring,” she said. “If the playground was more exciting, probably more kids would come and play and it would be more fun for everybody.”
When Bartlett Playground eventually closes for construction, McConnell said she’ll likely take her family to Sternberg Park, which is a few blocks away. She said she already goes there now because it’s a “more fun playground.”
McConnell said she also wants to see less garbage in the park.
“It’s more about people not littering,” she said.
Anthony Copeland, who has lived in the neighborhood for 54 years, has seen the park change over the years. He was raised in Williamsburg and later bought a home nearby.
“Growing up, you came here,” he said. “As an adult, you bring your family there.”
Copeland noted that the playground hasn’t improved in a long time. During the community meeting, some residents wanted to take away the spray shower area. Copeland disagreed.
“The heat in the summertime, it gets very hot,” he said. “You want to bring the little kids out and let them run in the water.”
The longtime resident said he would like to keep the basketball courts and fitness areas, both of which are popular. Another priority is keeping the community seating area.
“Families want to come out and sit and picnic,” Copeland said. “Their children can run around and adults can sit and keep an eye on their children.
“It’s fitting for all ages in the neighborhood,” he added.