If the Olympics put you in the mood for serving and spiking, here’s some good news: The Henry M. Jackson Playground is getting a volleyball area. It’s just one of many perks coming to two Lower East Side playgrounds as part of a city initiative to modernize ailing parks.
Under the program, $1.9 million has been allocated to the Henry M. Jackson Playground for renovations. In addition to the volleyball court, the new space will also feature a basketball court, benches and picnic tables, as well as a mini-running track.
Some $3.6 million has been allocated to renovate the Sol Lain Playground, which is projected to include a basketball court, swings, and a spray shower, as well as a community garden where children from the adjacent P.S. 134 can plant small vegetables and fruits.
The Community Parks Initiative was launched back in 2014, and was designed to revive smaller, neglected play areas. With a budget of $285 million (after it was doubled last fall), the city hopes to renew more than 60 parks citywide. In December 2014, the Parks Department invited community members to attend a brainstorming session that, according to City Council member Rosie Mendez, “enabled local residents to participate in and specify what renovations they wanted in their local playground.”
At a groundbreaking ceremony last week, Assemblymember Alice Cancel said the repair and modernization of the two Lower East Side playgrounds was “welcomed, though overdue.”
Construction of the playgrounds won’t be completed until fall of 2017. But Daniel Kim, the principal of P.S. 134, sees that timeline as a learning opportunity. “We’ll be able to help [the children] experience and watch with patience as they see a brand new park emerging,” he said. “It will be hard telling students that they won’t have a playground for a while,” he continued, but sometimes “good things are worth waiting for.”