The Rockwell Group offered a pro-bono plan for a Brownsville Imagination Playground as a renovation to the existing Betsy Head Playground on Dumont and Thomas S. Boyland St. At a price tag of $3.92 million, the park is the second worldwide Imagination Playground and the first for Brooklyn.
Inspired by tree houses, the park will include a multi-level space with water, sand, and loose part play areas surrounded by a long, curving play ramp that weaves through the trees and is bridged by permanent play equipment; renovated basketball and handball courts; and an exercise area for adults.
A trained staff of Play Associates will be onsite to maintain and manage the loose parts during the summer.
MKW + Associates, LLC is the landscape architect for the project.
The $3.92 million playground will be funded with $3.1 million capital funds from Councilwoman Darlene Mealy (D-Brooklyn), $750,000 from Borough President Marty Markowitz, and $70,000 from Mayor Bloomberg.
“The Imagination Playground concept allows children to exercise their minds, as well as their bodies,” said City Parks Commissioner Veronica White. “David Rockwell’s innovative design at the Burling Slip site of the South Street Seaport has proved a tremendous success and we are thrilled that he is working with us to introduce a vibrant new permanent play space for children here in Brownsville’s Betsy Head Park. Special thanks to Council Member Mealy and Borough President Markowitz for allocating the capital funds for this imaginative oasis of play.”
The playground uses large blue re-configurable blocks for “unlocking children’s creative spirit” says Matt Goldman, Co-founder of the Blue School. The Rockwell Group has donated a preliminary set of play blocks to the Brownsville Recreation Center to test.
This comes as great news as the Brownsville Partnership and the Municipal Art Society have recently been holding Hope In: Parks and Open Space sessions as a break out from their successful Hope Summit community planning event earlier this year. Conducting park audits to assess and rank the needs of the community, the organizations are looking to their partnership with Community Board 16 to produce actionable steps toward engaging city resources to do the work that needs to be done in Brownsville—a predominately black area that has seen considerable disinvestment in recent decades in physical environment and educational creative outlets for the youth. This could be a grand opportunity to affect am entire generation of young black and brown children and cultivate their minds to think creatively not only about their play but the physical world around them.
Who knows. I might not be the last black Architect out of Brownsville after all thanks to this.
Read full story at nypost.com.