Marine Parkers pitch handicap play areas, more “big kid swings” for renovated playground

Jessica Parks

January 24, 2020

Originally published in Brooklyn Paper on January 24, 2020.

Dozens of Marine Parkers met with the city Parks Department to pitch ideas on the upcoming redesign of the neighborhood’s namesake playground, with one pint-sized attendee suggesting a need for more “big kid” swings.

“I would like to see more of the normal swings for the bigger kids, because there are hundreds of little kid swings and there are mostly big kids waiting,” said Allison Strusser, 7. “And I think there should be more monkey bars because there is only one set of monkey bars.” 

The resident designers broke into five groups — including one comprised solely of Marine Park pickleball players— and brainstormed ideas for the PS 278 play space, proposing new play equipment for disabled youngsters, toddler areas, “slides that don’t get too hot” and requests to move the playground’s entrance.

“I want to see the entrances moved,” said Carl Fischer. “And I want to see one of the bocce courts repaved with a multifunctional surface so that you can have horseshoe pitching and shuffleboard.” 

The redesign follows state and city leaders uniting to pour more than $11 million into the park’s aging amenities — with state Sen. Andrew Gounardes securing $5.6 million for the playground, Councilman Alan Maisel providing another $4.5 million to restore the park’s inner oval, and the remainder of the funds from Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams. 

The playground area, which was last updated 20 years ago, suffers from peeling paint, stagnant pools of water that attract mosquitoes and gnats, and deteriorating safety mats on the ground, according to the borough’s chief greenspace guru. 

“It is not the worst playground in Brooklyn, but it is definitely getting tired, the safety surfaces have lost their resiliency,” said Marty Maher. “It could definitely use a reconstruction.”

The new funding comes after Gounardes’ predecessor, former state Sen. Marty Golden, announced $4 million for the playground days before losing his re-election bid — after which the promised funds never materialized. 

Reps for the Parks Department claimed the money never reached their department, which sparked accusations that the former senator made the promise as a last-minute scheme to garner votes ahead of the hotly contested general election. 

“Marty Golden lied to Brooklyn families and took credit for money he did nothing to secure and knew wasn’t coming,” Senate Democratic spokesman Gary Ginsburg told this paper in September. 

Senate Republicans instead laid blame on the Parks Department, who they said had failed to fill out the necessary forms to authorize the funds. 

To prevent any likelihood of a similar situation, Gounardes promised in November that all the required paperwork was filed and even went a step further to negotiate with the city Office of Management and Budget to expedite the state’s release of the funds to ensure the Parks Department didn’t have to wait the typical two-years for the money. 

Maisel said he is working on securing additional city funds to complete the renovation of the inner oval and to get started on some other projects for the park, but with only two years left in office, the councilman said his successor will have to continue advocating for the park. 

“I am currently working on two sets of funds; one from the city council, one from the mayor,” Maisel said. “I am very very hopeful we will get money from both by the end of the budget season. By July 1, I am very confident we will then have at least half of the money for the oval.”

The playground’s completion is slated for Fall 2023, with construction beginning a year earlier that will shutter the play space from use during the summer of that year.