NEW YORK—Ground was officially broken on the new Hester Street Playground in Manhattan’s Lower East Side on Thursday.
With $4.4 million from the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation (LMCD), and $250,000 from both Councilmember and Alan Gerson and the New York Environmental Fund Grant, Hester Street’s 1980’s-era facilities will be replaced by state of the art play structures, according to a release by the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR).
“You can't have a great neighborhood without great parks,” said Adrian Benepe, DPR Commissioner at the ceremony. He called the new playground state of the art and explained that Hester Street playground is a step in the plan to fix up parks and improve quality of life. He said “we are going to spend almost $50 million on projects across lower Manhattan.”
Borough Commissioner William Castro said that the average playground costs about $2 million, but Hester Street will be larger than standard and the additional bathrooms and new entrance upped the cost to $4.4 million.
The plan for the park includes new bathrooms on the South end. It has lots of green space, trees for shade, and separate play areas for toddlers and 5-12 year-olds. There will also be a sand and water-spray area and floor dance chimes that sound when stepped on.
The process of designing the park was also innovative, including collaboration between planners and local residents. Jess Pastor from the Hester Street Collaborative, the non-profit design firm which helped to coordinate community ideas with the DPR, said that they held planning forums where community members drew their ideas for the play ground on paper or asked architects to sketch their designs for them. She said original art was one of the community's requests for the new playground. Hester Street Collaborative helped children at Middle School 131 and the YMCA make colored mosaic blocks, which will be laid in the walls surrounding the new play areas.
When asked how they felt about the new park, one camper from a local DPR camp answered an emphatic, "Yeah!"
Hester Street playground is located at the southern end of Sara D. Roosevelt Park. The DPR projects that the new playground will be finished by summer 2010.