Volume 17, Number 51 | May 13 - 19, 2005

Downtown Express photos by Robert Stolarik

Brett, left, and Alex in the new Battery Park City playground in Kowsky Plaza.

Dog run and playground opens in B.P.C

By Ellen Keohane

On Tuesday afternoon, the new playground in Battery Park City’s Kowsky Plaza was the place to be—if you were under six. More than a dozen children climbed on the yellow, green and black play structure in the center of the playground, while three others dodged squirts of water in the water play area. Another girl ran screaming into her mother’s arms after falling on the play structure, but quickly recovered after a hug. In the middle of the madness, one boy calmly buried himself in the sand.

To children, parents, dogs and dog owners’ delight, the new playground and permanent dog run at Kowsky Plaza finally opened on Monday after years of discussion and planning. Kowsky Plaza, formerly known as Pumphouse Plaza, is located on the roof of an underground pumping station that was used to supply water to the cooling towers of the World Trade Center.

Plans for the playground and dog run near the west end of Liberty St. have been in the works since 2000. But after 9/11, the site was covered in debris when the towers collapsed and the project was subsequently put on hold. With input from parent and dog owner association members as well as local residents, the playground and dog run were later redesigned.

Parents and caregivers, overlooking the chaos of the playground, chatted with newly acquainted neighbors while sitting on benches underneath recently planted trees, which offered little shade from the bright sun.

The kids may love the water play area, but Manya Ghahremani, 34, did not come prepared. “I didn’t bring any changes of clothes for them,” she said. Her 2 1/2-year-old daughter, Estela, and 6-year-old son, Joel, were both wet, but smiling.

“It’s great for little kids,” said Mary Galperin, a 42-year-old stay-at-home mom. Because the space is fenced in, Galperin found it easy to keep an eye on her daughters Sarah, 3, and Kathyrn, 2.

The new permanent dog run, although not as popular as the playground, was also a busy spot. The run is paved, with mounds for dogs to jump over and a water fountain for them to splash in or drink from. Seven dogs and their owners waited patiently outside the dog run while a maintenance worker hosed it down.

Courtney, a 23-year-old actress who would not give her last name, brought her Yorkshire Terrier, Fifi, to the run for the second day in a row. Courtney likes the dog run, although she has to keep a close eye on Fifi because the 5-pound dog can wiggle through the gaps in the fence. “She lets people know who’s boss,” Courtney said as Fifi barked and lunged at another dog four times her size.

“The most amazing thing about this site is that so many people with different interests were able to come together to create something wonderful,” said James Gill, chairperson of the Battery Park City Authority in a statement. “It has everything. It even has a piece of the Berlin wall.” Indeed, the site includes a three-ton section of the wall that the city of Berlin donated to the neighborhood last year.

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