BY GABE HERMAN | There was a groundbreaking at Seward Park on May 31 to kick off renovations there as part of the city’s Parks Without Borders program. The program was launched in 2015 with the goal of better connecting parks with surrounding communities, including providing better access and adding amenities to underused park areas.
Historic Seward Park opened in 1903 and is the oldest municipal playground in the country. It will receive $6.4 million worth of renovations, to be completed by this fall.
Planned improvements include new pavement and plantings along the park’s perimeter, new street trees, an expanded garden area, a new library courtyard, new fitness equipment and amphitheater seating.
Local officials attending the groundbreaking included Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, Councilmember Margaret Chin, Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver and Democratic District Leader Daisy Paez.
After the event, Brewer thanked Mayor Bill de Blasio on Twitter for the renovation as part of Parks Without Borders, and added, “Green space is precious — I’m dedicated to supporting it wherever I can.”
“I was thrilled that Seward Park was selected to be in the Parks Without Borders initiative,” Chin tweeted on May 31. “This space has been a neighborhood treasure for more than 100 years. The $6.4 million in improvements we broke ground on today means more NYers will enjoy the park for generations to come.”
Seward Park was one of eight parks citywide chosen for renovations as part of the Parks Without Borders initiative. In November 2015, the Parks Department asked New Yorkers for nominations for parks for the program, and more than 6,000 were received for a total of 691 parks. The winning parks were chosen based on factors including community support, park access and current conditions, according to the department.
“Seward Park is a central part of our community that has too often been left behind,” said state Senator Daniel Squadron in May 2016, when Seward Park was among those selected for upgrades. Squadron represented the area from 2013 to ’17.
“Its selection as a Park Without borders is great news,” Squadron said then. “This initiative is an exciting step in continued parks access and equity efforts, and I thank Commissioner Silver for including Seward Park. The Seward Park Conservancy, with support from Community Board 3, was instrumental in moving this proposal forward, and I thank them for their continued commitment to our community.”