Community leaders and officials with the city’s Parks Department gathered in the drizzle at Seward Park today to celebrate the completion of new basketball courts.
Back in 2014, City Council member Margaret Chin allocated $600,000 for the resurfacing of the courts. The project was delayed for more than two years and stalled earlier this year, city officials told Community Board 3, when a contractor failed to stay on schedule.
Now the courts are finally done. Bill Castro, Manhattan Parks commissioner, was on hand today for a ribbon cutting ceremony, along with Council member Chin, Seward Park Conservancy leader Linda Jones and CB3 Parks Committee Chair Trever Holland (who we learned today is a former Columbia University basketball player).
The courts have been regraded and repaved, and 7 new hoops have been added. Two new trees will be planted in the area this fall, said Castro, and adult fitness equipment will be installed next year. Castro noted that Seward Park is the recipient of $6.4 million through the city’s Parks Without Borders program. In about a year, renovations will begin on the plaza in front of the library and another plaza lining Essex Street. Sidewalks will be replaced around the park and fences lowered.
The Lower East Side public space was a winner of the Parks Without Borders competition, said Castro, “due in large part to the Seward Park Conservancy’s strong advocacy and the hundreds of people who wrote in to support the selection of Seward Park for this program.” The renovations are expected to begin in about a year.
Chin, in the final days of a re-election campaign, highlighted her recent allocation of $200,000 to repair the broken down Schiff Fountain on Essex Street. She mentioned that Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer has also kicked in $200,000 for the project and that the Seward Park Conservancy is raising additional funds for the fountain restoration.
“I look forward to supporting more projects in this park,” said Chin. Addressing the borough commissioner, she alluded to another potential initiative: renovating and reopening the bathhouse in Seward Park. “How do we utilize that for the community?,” she asked.
In the past, Parks Department officials have said they consider renovation of the bathhouse a priority of funding can be identified for the project.