The Rockefeller Park playground, in northern Battery Park City, will be undergoing a $1.5-million, 18-month upgrade, beginning this spring. At the January 29 meeting of the board of the Battery Park City Authority (BPCA), Gwen Dawson, the agency’s vice president for real property, described the playground as, “one of the more beloved features of Battery Park City for area residents, which has also been rated as one of the top ten playgrounds in New York City by a lot of the tourism websites.”
“So it gets a lot of traffic from visitors and tourists as well,” she continued. “It is now over 25 years old, and due to its high volume of use, as well as the marine environment, we’ve got a situation where we need to do some work to refurbish and do some replacements of the elements of the playground.”
Ms. Dawson added, “we have a number of timber elements that require replacement. We’re looking to create a new concrete underlayment, a new play surface, to refurbish all of the metal elements, and to replace some of the non-metal elements such as slides, and the clatter bridge.”
The BPCA issued a request for proposals for this work in October, and has decided to award the contract to Deborah Bradley Construction, a firm that recently managed a $4.5-million refurbishment of the grounds surrounding the Statue of Liberty.
Authority board member Martha Gallo, who lives in Battery Park City, asked about, “our experience with Deborah Bradley,” noting that the firm’s proposal was $1 million lower than that of another bidder. “I just want to make sure they’re paying themselves well enough,” she added.
Ms. Dawson replied, “based on our experience with Deborah Bradley, the firm has always been extremely efficient in their work and we have found them to work quickly and effectively.” She added that the company had most recently worked for the BPCA in fixing sink holes on Kowsky Plaza, between Gateway Plaza and North Cover Marina. “They did excellent work. They did it quickly. I also think that in this particular case we are benefiting because they have recently done a very similar project at Hudson River Park. So I think that gives them a little bit of a head start in terms of being able to approach this project more efficiently.”
Authority board member Catherine McVay Hughes, who lives in Lower Manhattan, noted that, “this is a beloved children’s playground. My two boys grew up over there, playing on that incredible playground. So the same features will just be updated, it’s not going to be a new plan?”
Ms. Dawnson replied, “Right. There’s not a new design. The design is the same. It will be refurbished, but the elements will be the same.”
Ms. McVay Hughes asked, “will the entire playground go out of commission for the entire project or will it be say phased in or staged and what would the total timeframe be?”
“We are attempting to phase it so that it doesn’t have to all be down at the same time,” Ms Dawson said.
Ms. McVay Hughes pressed, “Not the summer. Because that water component is critical during the summer.” This was a reference to a system of sprinklers and fountains that children run through during warm-weather months.
Ms. Dawson said, “we want to try to get the contract in place and get them started on it as quickly as possible so that they can be working in earnest on it this spring.”
BPCA chairman George Tsunis observed, “let it be said that our directors are very enthusiastic about their work.”
Martha Gallo answered, “we became mothers at that park.”
Mr. Tsunis replied, “that’s dangerous.”
BPCA board member Anthony Kendall offered, “I’m sure you meant something else.”
Mr. Tsunis answered, somewhat sheepishly, “I just got it.”
Ms. McVay Hughes rephrased the thought, suggesting, “we’ve matured in our motherhood skills at that park.”
This led Ms. Gallo to observe, “Catherine and I are looking at each other like, ‘what’s he talking about?'”