EXCLUSIVE: $6.5 Million In Renovations Coming To Bensonhurst Park

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Photo by Rachel Silberstein/Bensonhurst Bean

After years of tireless advocacy from neighbors, elected officials, and this news site, the long neglected Bensonhurst Park on Cropsey Avenue and Bay Parkway is about to get the ambitious overhaul it deserves.

Over the next two years, more than $6.5 million in capital funds will be poured into the park, which has not seen a full scale renovation in more than a quarter of a century.

For the 2016 fiscal year, the park — which is technically located in Bath Beach — has been allocated $700,000 from Councilman Vincent Gentile and $100,000 from Councilman Mark Treyger. For the 2017 budget, the park has been designated $2.218 million from Gentile, $2.3 million from City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, $1 million from Mayor Bill de Blasio, and another $200,000 from Treyger.

Included in the revamp is a complete playground reconstruction, new sprinklers, paths and plaza realignment, benches, and new game tables. There will also be infrastructural improvements and like a new drainage system and lighting installed, a spokesperson for New York City’s Parks Department has confirmed.

“We are thrilled that this project has officially been funded, and we look forward to the scoping meeting with the community later this summer,” said Parks spokesperson Maeri Ferguson.

The area of Bensonhurst Park that will see improvements.

The area of Bensonhurst Park that will see improvements.

Once the scoping meeting takes place, the design process will begin. The average time to complete the design phase is 10-16 months. (The project’s progress can be tracked here.)

Bensonhurst Park, though being one of the largest green spaces in southern Brooklyn, has fallen in disrepair in recent years. With broken benches, tree stumps protruding from the sidewalk, and loose bricks, it is also among city parks with the highest incidence of playground injury lawsuits, according to a 2015 Comptroller report.

When we inquired about funding for the park last year, we were told that the playground requires more than $30 million in capital funds to be restored to its original glory, which is a daunting amount for any two-term City Council member to raise. As a result, the Park Department came up with a five-phase plan for the park, so that the improvements could be made incrementally, Gentile said.

Photo by Rachel Silberstein/Bensonhurst Bean

Photo by Rachel Silberstein/Bensonhurst Bean

Gentile, whose third and final term ends in November 2017, said he advocated aggressively for funding from the City Council speaker and the mayor to ensure “phase 1” and “phase 2” would be funded by the end of 2017.

“I had to make the case for the Speaker to to put the money in. I told her ‘This park is in such deplorable shape, that even if you live close by, you don’t want to go it,'” he said . “Now with this transformation, it will really be on its way to becoming a destination.”

The Parks Department has split the overhaul of Bensonhurst Park into seven phases. Two have been funded. (Courtesy of Councilman Vincent Gentile)

The Parks Department has split the overhaul of Bensonhurst Park into five phases. Two have been funded. (Courtesy of Councilman Vincent Gentile)

The Parks Department and Gentile are interested in community input for design phase of the new playground. We will keep you posted on a date for the scoping meeting, but in the meantime, comments can be emailed to the councilman at [email protected].

  • Sean F

    And of course the baseball field takes last priority. I’ll bet it would have come even before the playground if it was a soccer field. Or maybe they’ll make it a soccer field, and further disadvantage Southern Brooklyn athletes.

  • MJ

    Can Bensohurst Park add table tennis, just like those at Bryant Park in midtown

  • Black Adam

    Smoked plenty of weed in this park in the 1980’s.

  • EndofDaze

    And as usual, Dyker Beach Park @Bay 8th, which aestheticly is a gem, remains neglected! Gentile and all the other politicos who have that in their jurisdiction, should be ashamed of themselves! Just look at the millions now being poured into Marine Park, and you can easily figure out which politicians work for their community, though demographics might be an issue there, as it obviously is with the profound changes happening at Bay 8th! And forget about our relatively new Parks Commissioner, Kevin Jeffrey, another political hack like, Julius Spiegel, who was in that position for over thirty years! KJ with the new demographics will probably last longer…

    • MJ

      Launched in 2014, the Community Parks Initiative,
      funded by Mayor de Blasio, brings greater resources to historically
      underserved parks in high-need neighborhoods (i.e. low income neighborhoods). People living near Bensonhurst Park has priority over Bay 8th Park because people near Bensonhurst Park has lower income than Bay 8th Park. But please make no complaints because folks in Bay Ridge has seen very little capital money for their parks because household income is higher, so overserved area.

    • LT

      FYI: You can thank Councilman Gentile for the lights that flood Dyker Beach Park’s fields at night so that sports can be played after dusk, an occurrence that never took place before his $1.2 million allocation. In addition, Councilman Gentile allocated $2.5 million for a new state-of-the-art soccer field for Dyker Beach Park: https://www.nycgovparks.org/planning-and-building/capital-project-tracker/project/7230.

      Dyker Beach Park is a gem but is far from neglected thanks to Councilman Gentile.

  • But yet we can’t take care of our homeless and poor people.What a shame!!

    • Sean F

      The politicians probably took that into account, Frances. If they fix up the park, the homeless and poor will have a nicer place to stay the night. (I know it’s not really funny, but I’m only being mildly sarcastic.)

      • Yeah you are sarcastic,but on any given night there are 20,000 children in overcrowded homeless shelters,No laughing matter.

  • libby

    So this is why so many trees are being taken down? It’s so hypocritical. They planted baby trees in the middle of the park but are taking down the big ones everywhere else. What’s the point in that?

  • Bamboo Bike Guy

    I wish they’d connect the park to the water via a new pedestrian/bike path where 21st hits Shore. This way you don’t have to go under that grimy underpass or encounter traffic lights. Or at the very least add some bike paths around the area