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Reconstruction of the West 85th Street Playground

At the regularly scheduled monthly Community Board Five meeting on Thursday, December 14, 2023, the following resolution passed with a vote of 34 in favor; 0 opposed; 1 abstaining:

WHEREAS, The Central Park Conservancy has proposed to reconstruct the West 85 th Street Playground, located north of the 85th Street Central Park entrance and directly south of the 86 th Street Transverse along Central Park West; and

WHEREAS, The playground is also located west of Central Park’s Pinetum and north of the newly renovated West 84 th Street playground; and

WHEREAS, The West 85 th Street playground was one of 21 playgrounds built along the perimeter of Central Park during the Robert Moses era; and

WHEREAS, The playground was last renovated in 1994 and is one of the few playgrounds remaining in Central Park that has not been updated in recent years; and

WHEREAS, The existing timber playground equipment was at the end of its useful life and has been removed from the playground; and

WHEREAS, Access to the Playground from the West 85th Street Park entrance and from the renovated 84th Street playground is not ADA accessible; and

WHEREAS, The playground is located adjacent to the site of the Seneca Village, a settlement from the early to mid-1800s of predominantly African-Americans; and

WHEREAS, The Central Park Conservancy reached out to current playground users with surveys regarding desired features of the reconstructed playground; and

WHEREAS, The existing playground is one of the largest of the Moses playgrounds at 26,196 square feet (SF); and

WHEREAS, The new playground footprint will be reduced by approximately 1259 square feet (SF) to 24,937 square feet (SF)and reconfigured to move it away from the known foundations of Seneca Village houses; and

WHEREAS, An approximately 6,377 square foot (SF) new picnic area will be added adjacent to the reconstructed playground; and

WHEREAS, The play areas will be designed for 5 to 12-year children with wood climber play structures, tire and strap swings, and a water feature. The newly renovated West 84 th Street playground was designed for younger children; and

WHEREAS, The play areas and equipment are still being designed but will feature boulders and wood to be compatible with the surrounding park and similar to other renovated Central Park playgrounds; and

WHEREAS, The water feature may include climbing boulders and The Conservancy will ensure that they will be non-slippery and safe to climb on; and

WHEREAS, The playground will have wood and concrete benches incorporated throughout as well as a stone seat wall; and

WHEREAS, The existing 7’ high metal fence will be removed and replaced with a 4’ high fence surrounding the playground, similar to other playground fences in Central Park; and

WHEREAS, The paths from Central Path West and the West 84th Street Playground will be regraded and made fully ADA compliant with ramps and railings as seen in other areas of the park; and

WHEREAS, The southern entry into the reconstructed playground will reconfigured so that two large oak trees will now be located outside of the playground; and

WHEREAS, No trees will be removed in order to create the reconstructed playground; and

WHEREAS, The cost of the renovation will be fully funded from private philanthropic funds; and

WHEREAS, The construction duration will be approximately 12 months with the project bid out in Spring 2024; and

WHEREAS, The Central Park Conservancy has consistently exhibited good stewardship of the Park; therefore, be it

RESOLVED, Community Board Five recommends approval of the application for renovation of the West 85th Street Playground.

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