Community Board 1 (CB1) chair Anthony Notaro has some good news for Lower Manhattan couples who are planning to have children in the next few years.
At the December 19 meeting of CB1, he announced that, “HUD has released funds for the Battery play area.” This was a reference to the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development, which is the custodian for funds being held on behalf of more than a dozen Lower Manhattan projects, until they are ready to begin work.
One of these is the Playscape, an innovative design for a new playground that is slated to replace the legacy jungle gym in the Battery. HUD, and its local partner, the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation (LMDC), have been holding $6 million for several years, waiting until the Battery Conservancy, the non-profit that oversees the historic park at Manhattan’s southern tip, was ready to start construction.
The Conservancy has additionally lined up $8 million in private donations to complete the project. The initial $6-million allocation from HUD and LMDC is meant to provide seed money, to set the plan in motion.
The design, produced in part by Lower Manhattan landscape architecture firm Starr Whitehouse, includes five granite slides, a grand arena for sand play. Also featured are three treehouses connected by suspension bridges weaving through a tree canopy, and a Jewel Box Theater for improvisational performance and puppet shows, in which the surrounding landscape of dunes will also double as a natural amphitheater. All of these will be set within five zones with names like “Creativity Meadow,” “Imagination Marsh,” and “Adventure Bluffs.”
Situated at the southeastern corner of the Battery (between State and South Streets), the 1.4-acre Playscape will triple the size of the existing playground, which dates from the 1950s. At 60,000 square feet, it will become one of the largest such facilities in Manhattan, below Central Park.
Now slated to open in late 2021 or early 2022, the park will also likely prove a boon for local parents who are planning to have children in the near future. Babies born before the end of this year will be toddlers around the time that Playscape opens, and thus will be among the first to enjoy what Warrie Price, president and founder of the Battery Conservancy, promises will be, “a world-class park.”
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