It’s a space more fit for its namesake.
The state on Monday celebrated the reopening and expansion of the Sgt. William T. Dougherty Playground in an industrial area of Greenpoint — a $12 million project that was part of the ongoing replacement of the Kosciuszko Bridge.
Tucked against the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway near the bridge, the modest playground was rebuilt with new amenities including basketball and handball courts, a playground, a comfort station and skate park. Lieutenant Gov. Kathy Hochul was on hand for the ribbon-cutting ceremony alongside family of Dougherty, a Greenpoint resident and Army soldier who was killed during World War II’s battle of Saipan.
William Harrigan, Dougherty’s nephew, said the remodeling “will go a long way towards enhancing its stature as an enduring legacy for the community while highlighting” Dougherty and his sacrifices.
The state had taken a slice of the playground for the bridge project. To build it back, the state purchased a warehouse adjacent to the green space in order to demolish the structure and expand the new park’s footprint.
Dougherty was posthumously awarded both the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star for his service, and the playground was dedicated to his memory in 1948. The previous playground, one of only a few in the neighborhood, had become “rundown” over the years, according to Hochul.
“We recognize that there are projects that sometimes disrupt a community — and they can disrupt an existing park,” Hochul said. “This is our way of saying, on behalf of the people of this magnificent community, ‘You have a park back — but it’s bigger and better and more incredible than ever before.’”
The new basketball court includes a complete three-point line and the children’s playground features a water play area with spray showers, but the skate facility left a bit to be desired, according to one skateboarder who rolled through Monday afternoon. A few hubbas — a term used to describe the angled ledges that typically run down sets of stairs in a skatepark — were built unusually high, creating a challenging environment for grind tricks, according to Anthony “A.J.” Prather, 32, of Bay Ridge.
“That’s difficult for even a skilled skater,” he said. “[Government] has been much better at building new skate parks, but they can still get better at designing them.”