On Saturday, dozens of young children and their families were already using the new play equipment and other features. The $2.6 million reconstruction project brought new fencing, benches, plantings and pavement to the popular playground.
Martha Holstein, a steering committee member of the McGolrick Park Neighborhood Alliance, said for several years, the playground was not well maintained, despite high usage.
“There were broken swings, and the pavement on the ground were not well maintained,” she said. “Nothing was working well.”
The playground renovation was entered into the second round of Councilman Stephen Levin’s participatory budgeting process, and won $450,000. Borough President Eric Adams and the Parks Department also kicked in funds.
“All of us together were able to agree on the design that the Parks Department put forward, with some changes that we all demanded,” she said. “The result is here.”
Holstein noted that despite the nippy weather on Saturday, so many children and adults were making good use of the playground.
Ingrid Bromberg Kennedy, who is also a member of the group’s steering committee, said she was really excited to see the playground project finished.
“It’s really cute, kids are all over it,” she said. “Even my daughter’s been peering through the fence for months now. It’s really beautiful and really nice to have.”
Bromberg Kennedy said many Greenpoint residents don’t have a backyard, so they’re often dependent on playgrounds and local green space. When the playground was closed for construction, it was a struggle to find an alternative.
“I noticed parents would still gather. The sense of community we have around the park was still maintained,” she said. “It will definitely be easier now that the playground is open again.”
The opening of the playground coincided with the third annual Open House GCEF, a showcasing of 25 projects funded by the Greenpoint Community Environmental Fund.
GCEF is a $19.5 million grant program created by the New York Attorney General’s office and the state Department of Environmental Conservation. They obtained the money through a settlement with ExxonMobil over the Greenpoint oil spill.
The program has given out 61 grants to 47 projects. Combined with matching funds, GCEF has invested nearly $67 million into projects for the Greenpoint community.
During the open house, attendees enjoyed a variety of family-friend activities, including a daffodil bulb scavenger hunt, children’s story time and using soil testing kits.
Holstein said she loved the idea of bringing all of the projects to one central location, especially McGolrick Park.
“A lot of them are projects that could never be done without the GCEF money,” she said. “This has been a wonderful run for the environment.”