A playground at Water’s Edge Drive and 24th Avenue in Bay Terrace is beginning to seem more like a reality.
The Department of Parks and Recreation presented a design for the playground to Community Board 7 on Monday evening, which members approved.
A park was initially proposed for the spot last summer when then-Councilman Paul Vallone secured funding for it, with the intention that it go across the street from the proposed 572-seat elementary school.
The school plan was the source of some controversy on the board last summer, which it voted against due to “lack of sufficient information.” Soon after, former state Sen. and then-Council candidate Tony Avella wrote an op-ed for the Chronicle against both the school and the playground.
“When is the proposal for a new school and playground not a good idea?” he began his piece.
A similar but surprised tone was evident at Monday’s meeting, when the board nearly voted down the park, too; the design plan narrowly passed by a 20-19 vote.
The largest point of contention among members was that only one of the park’s three entrances will be ADA-accessible.
“This is a public park that’s being built brand new — you have to have equal access for everybody,” said an unusually heated Warren Schreiber, the board’s second vice chair. “Everybody has to be able to use every single entrance. You can’t tell somebody in a wheelchair or somebody with a disability that they have to use another entrance. That’s absolutely against the law.”
First Vice Chair Chuck Appelian was also skeptical, particularly about the guard rails.
“Wouldn’t you want unimpeded access so if someone has a stroller, someone has a bike, someone has a walking disability, they could just walk into the park without having to go all the way around because there’s aa 2-foot barrier in front of them?” he said.
Part of the reason access points are so limited, explained Stacia Tull, the park’s project manager and landscape architect, is due to the surrounding fencing and guard rails — some parts of which are 8 feet high — installed for security reasons.
And while members were angered by the entrances discussion, otherwise, the playground was received fairly positively. Fifty percent of the children’s play structures (there will be two; one for ages 2 to 5 and another for ages 5 to 12) is designed to be ADA-accessible. The adult fitness space is similarly designed to be used by people of all abilities, as it includes flex wheels, arm bikes, chin-up and parallel bars.
The design also includes a variety of other spaces. Spray showers will be installed to keep patrons cool on hot days, and pavement will be light-colored to keep it cool. In fact, most of the structures will be fairly light-colored; the color scheme includes hues of lavender, light green, yellow and blue.
There will also be plenty of seating throughout the park, Tull said. While some will include tables and chairs where groups may gather or play games, some will also allow for lounging — even for those who would normally struggle to stand up from them.
Construction is expected to start in about two and half years, and is anticipated to end in 2025.