Battery Playscape getting a facelift

The Battery Conservancy “Adventure Bluffs” will include stone slides and lots of greenery.

The Battery Conservancy
“Adventure Bluffs” will include stone slides and lots of greenery.

BY COLIN MIXSON

Locals got a glimpse of the future of The Battery’s dilapidated “playscape” last week when the head of the park’s conservancy showed the community board its plans to replace the run-down fun zone with a massive, state-of-the-art piece of recreational engineering.

After watching the Downtown play space decline for decades without any renovation and never quite recovering from the ravages of Hurricane Sandy, area residents are looking forward to the new, expanded Battery Playscape.

“The new playground can accommodate many, many people,” said Catherine McVay Hughes, outgoing chairwoman of Community Board 1. “One of the key components of the playground is it’s tripling in size, and for an area that is starved for playgrounds, parents in the Financial District have been waiting very patiently for this to happen.”

The Battery Conservancy Treehouse-style play spaces will give kids a chance to climb, swing, and dangle.

The Battery Conservancy
Treehouse-style play spaces will give kids a chance to climb, swing, and dangle.

Battery Conservancy president Warrie Price presented the plans and several renderings of the proposed park being designed by Starr Whitehouse Landscape Architects and BKSK Architects — the firm that designed the acclaimed New York Hall of Science Kidpower! Playground in Queens — at CB1’s planning committee on June 13. The renderings showed off four separate components of the updated playscape, including the Jewel Box Puppet Theater, a jungle-gym-esque playhouse, the playground entrance, and Adventure Bluffs, a hillside flush with vegetation, stairs, and slides.

It wasn’t long before the playground plans received the committee’s endorsement by a unanimous vote.

The conservancy will take the board’s blessing to the Public Design Commission, essentially the city’s aesthetic gatekeeper, which has to sign off on any major additions to city parks before work can commence.

Once through the commission, the plans will be handed off to the Parks Department, which will then put the contract to build the new playground out to bid — potentially a year-long process — sometime in 2017, aiming for a late-2019–early-2020 completion.

The Battery Conservancy The “Jewel Box Puppet Theater” will feature a mini-amphitheater and one side, and a child-sized rock-climbing wall on the other.

The Battery Conservancy
The “Jewel Box Puppet Theater” will feature a mini-amphitheater and one side, and a child-sized rock-climbing wall on the other.

By the time it’s finished, the new playscape will cost the conservancy — which funded by private donations — $2.5 million, with city taxpayers kicking in $14 million through the Parks Department, according to Price.

Last week may have been the first time the public caught a glimpse of the new playground, but its design did not go uninfluenced by local parents, according to the conservancy president.

Despite the playscape’s current state — which Hughes described as “forsaken” — parents who still frequented the playground reported that they enjoyed its large, open design, and single point of access that allowed parents to keep track of their tots, Price said.

“Many parents, even in it’s derelict condition, love the scale of openness of the playscape,” said Price. “Kids have the freedom to run and play in a secured area. We wanted to keep that open sense of freedom,”

The current Battery Playscape predates the conservancy itself by about a half century, according to Price, who said that fixing it up has been on her to-do list for some time, but that extenuating factors — including Hurricane Sandy and work other projects such as the Seaglass Carousel — caused the renovation to be delayed until the conservancy could line up adequate funding.

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