Daily News writers are often given the opportunity to express their innermost feelings. Although this usually irks me to no end, I’m happy for this writer, who just published an article about how NYC parks have changed over the years–how they were once filled with drugs and teens up to no good, and how they are now closed and protected spaces that sometimes feature hammocks and gentle streams.
I’m happy for this writer because he is from Bay Ridge, Brooklyn — where I currently reside — and refers to Fort Hamilton Park as one that was a “hangout for misfits, drug dealers, and deviants” like himself in the ’80s. A friend of his was even stabbed at this park, so the guy knows what he is talking about. I admire his ability to keep a positive attitude about our city parks.
BUT. And this is a BIG BUT.
I would have preferred it if he had written an article about the major discrepancies that still exist among NYC parks. While he admits that his family travels from Brooklyn to the South Street Seaport’s Imagination Playground because it is a park unlike any other, he stops there and doesn’t expand on the fact that he chooses to leave Bay Ridge and travel 20 mins to get to another park.
I’m not judging him for it because I do the same exact thing. And here’s why: many of our Bay Ridge parks lack grass, new equipment, or even gates to keep children from running onto the street. A park located one block from my apartment features colossal cracks in the asphalt directly beside a children’s slide. Inexplicable pitfall-like drops appear from out of nowhere on jungle gym equipment. And fountains are thoughtlessly set up atop slippery concrete.
For those of you who have never heard of Bay Ridge, I can assure you it is a pretty residential sort-of suburb where real estate ranges from about $250K for a 1BR apartment to 1.3 million or more for a lovely house along Shore Road.
Yes, Park Slope is a much wealthier neighborhood, which I suppose accounts for their thoughtful park planning? But does it really take money to build a gate around the section meant for children under 2? And is it so much to ask for a section for children under 2?
Have you visited Bleeker Playground in the West Village? It contains a sand box filled with toys that is the size of a studio apartment. There isn’t one square inch that isn’t blanketed with rubber flooring. How do I know? Because like the writer, I’ve wasted 30 minutes traveling to get to it so my daughter can play at a real park.
I can’t even imagine how residents in neighborhoods like Brownsville, Bed-Stuy, or East New York feel. Yep, I have a definitely have a case of park envy.