Volume 19 • Issue 19 | September 22 - 28, 2006

City plays with ideas for Burling Slip park

By Jefferson Siegel

The Parks Department updated Community Board 1 on plans for the proposed Burning Slip playground at the board’s Seaport/Civic Center meeting last week.

“It’s trying to take the playground to the next step in its evolution and how children play and how they socialize and relate to each other,” Lawrence Mauro, the project manager for the Department of Parks and Recreation, said of ideas being considered for the new park on John St. along South St.

Currently an asphalt-covered parking lot, Burling Slip has an open view of the East River. “Our mission is to try and reinvent the playground so it does become a place of imagination and brings people down and connects them together,” said Barry Richards of the Rockwell Group, a project consultant.

“To have something that is thought-provoking is great,” board member Linda Roche opined, “but to be able to have them be physical is even more important.”

Board member Joe Lerner asked how space in the 15,000 sq. ft. lot would be allocated for different ages. Richards responded that the playground was still in the design stages and designers would solicit opinions on how to alot the space between toddlers and older children.

A not-for-profit organization has been set up to match the initial $2 million provided by the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation. The intention is to raise another $2 million in additional funds that will be earmarked for security, maintenance and a permanent on-site overseer.

Funds would also be used for a “Play Worker,” someone who would come to the playground several hours a day on a regular basis. The worker would act, the consultant explained, as a “catalyst for play.” “Having someone there to oversee play allows certain sorts of play that have traditionally not been able to happen,” Richards said. The concept of a play worker existed several decades ago, he added, calling a play worker’s return an “exciting prospect.”


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