Photo: NYC Parks / Malcolm Pinckney

First Major Capital Improvement to La Guardia Playground since 1985

NYC Parks Commissioner Sue Donoghue today joined Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso, Council Member Jennifer Gutiérrez, representatives from the North Brooklyn Parks Alliance and El Puente, and community members to cut the ribbon on a $6.74 million renovation of La Guardia Playground in South Williamsburg, Brooklyn. The project was funded through NYC Parks’ Community Parks Initiative, which aims to create a more equitable park system by redesigning and rebuilding underinvested community parks in high-density, low-income areas. The playground now features upgraded sports courts and new play equipment, with a cohesive design that connects the site’s two sections by using similar materials, site furniture, and plantings. 

“Today we are celebrating the completion of the first full reconstruction of La Guardia Playground in nearly 40 years, making this a space that the South Williamsburg community can be proud of. That’s what the Community Parks Initiative is all about!” said NYC Parks Commissioner Sue Donoghue. “Every neighborhood deserves safe, welcoming, and high-quality parks. After a two-phase renovation, La Guardia Playground is now twice as nice!” 

“It’s always a special moment to be able to return to my home district and celebrate new upgrades and resources for my beloved Southside Williamsburg,” said Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso. “When we create beautiful recreational spaces in our communities, people will come and use them. It creates an opportunity for them to not just live and work in a community, but also enjoy it and make it their own. Thank you to Commissioner Donoghue for giving attention to the best place in the world, Brooklyn!”

“These parks and playgrounds were constructed around the BQE by design. For decades, the Southside community has had to endure poor air quality and noise pollution because of decisions made generations ago that put our communities last. For too long there have been little to no meaningful investments to maintain our green spaces and I appreciate that the city and the Parks Department have prioritized these long needed improvements. I am also deeply thankful to our community leaders who advocated to ensure that additional environmental and traffic mitigations were included in the restorations of this playground,” said Council Member Gutiérrez

La Guardia Playground contains two properties for a total of 1.88 acres. The first phase of the project reconstructed the southern parcel of the park, including refurbished basketball and handball courts; an adult fitness area; a new seating area with tables and chairs; and a rain garden to aid in sustainable stormwater management. The second phase addressed the northern parcel of the park, adding new play equipment for kids aged 2-5 and 5-12; a tot-sized seating area; and brand new water play features. A wider planted edge was installed along Borinquen Place to screen vehicular traffic and help mitigate emissions from the nearby roadways.

The overall design features decorative pavers and furnishings that create a seamless connection between both properties. The pavers help direct pedestrian circulation while creating a sense of arrival at park entrances. The space utilizes NYC Parks’ Parks Without Borders design approach through the implementation of wide entryways, low perimeter fences and the integration of decorative pavers from within the park out to the perimeter sidewalk.

La Guardia Playground was originally built in 1937 in conjunction with work on the Williamsburg Bridge, and the following year the Department of Public Works transferred the site to the City of New York. The playground was further developed in the 1940s and 50s to accommodate the elevated approach to the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway that bisects La Guardia Playground. The last major capital improvement to the playground was in 1985. 

Through the Community Parks Initiative, NYC Parks is redesigning and rebuilding underinvested community parks in high-density, low-income and growth areas. Since launching in 2014, CPI has fully reimagined 67 parks – 65 of which are already open to the public. An additional $425 million in Mayoral funding was baselined in October 2021, which will result in 10 new CPI sites a year for the next 10 years, bringing the total number of CPI sites to 167. Ten new sites are already in design, and ten new sites will start design. The new sites being addressed with baselined funding focus on COVID hardest-hit areas.