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Seth Low Playground's softball fields. Players say they'll be displaced when the renovation is complete (Source: NYC Parks Department)

Seth Low Playground’s softball fields. Players say they’ll be displaced when the renovation is complete (Source: NYC Parks Department)

Community Board 11 passed a proposal on Thursday to expand and redesign Seth Low Playground on Avenue P and Stillwell Avenue.

The new change include a Tai Chi space, an adult fitness area, water sprinklers for the summer, basketball courts, special space for things like movie night and more grass areas “where the kiddies could run around freely,” explained Martin Maher, chief of staff of the Parks Department’s Brooklyn unit. The overhaul will be the first major work done at the park since 1995, when a $219,000 reconstruction project, funded by Borough President Howard Golden, was completed. Mayor Rudolph Giuliani funded a $156,466 pavement and sitework project in 2000.

Maher described the current park as “a concrete lot. An ugly chain linked fence park.”

Councilman David Greenfield attended the meeting to show support for the motion. The changes, which were first proposed more than a year ago, would cost $3 $2.9 million and both the councilman and Borough President Marty Markowitz allocated the money through government funds.

“There’s no such thing as a perfect park,” Greenfield said during the meeting. “But we’re trying our best. It beats the alternative, which is doing nothing.”

Paul DiSpirito, a member of the Board and owner of Lioni’s Fresh Mozzarella (7803 15th Avenue), was quick to point out that, for him, this is far from a perfect park. He noted that, for all the amenities the park will have, they wouldn’t have a softball field. Currently, Seth Low Playground has a concrete softball field where two different leagues play.

“If you pass this proposal, you’ll be displacing two softball leagues,” DiSpirito said to the Board.

Community Board 11 District Manager Marnee Elias-Pavia deflected the complaint, noting that it’s an overall benefit for the community even if a few are unhappy.

“The plan really focuses on the community at large,” she said.

The proposal was passed despite the complaint, and Greenfield later told the Bensonhurst Bean that he would try his best to find a new softball field for them.

But DiSpirito, who works for the two leagues, isn’t holding his breath.

“I’m not as optimistic as them on this,” DiSpirito said. It will be about a year before the park begins construction, according to Greenfield. Until then, the Boobies and the Monico Leagues will continue to play in the park. There are no plans for them after that.”

UPDATE (12:14 p.m.): We just received a response to a request we put in with the Parks Department. We had hoped to get renderings, but they say they’re unable to share them until it goes before the Design Commission in January (which, itself, seems like a silly restriction. You’d think maybe neighbors have some feedback for the design commission). Regardless, they did send us a little more information about the project.

The proposed design for Seth Low Park includes the transformation of the asphalt paved area into a multi-use space that includes two synthetic turf fields, one striped for soccer and one unmarked field, which can be used for a variety of activities.  It also includes spectator seating between the two fields, a new planting bed designed as a rain garden, new paved paths, and adult fitness equipment.  The goal of this project is to provide additional recreation opportunities, especially for children and teenagers, and to provide amenities to encourage greater year-round use of the site.

The project has been funded with $2.9 million allocated by the City Council. (Update by Ned Berke)

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