April 6, 2018 By Nathaly Pesantez
Community Board 2 unanimously voted to back the city’s acquisition of the former Phipps Playground for a public park in Sunnyside.
The park, at the corner of 39th Avenue and 50th Street, has been vacant for decades, and served as a playground for the neighboring Phipps Housing Complex.
The community has been calling for the city to make the site a public park for years. In 2016, Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer announced that $3 million would go toward the site’s purchase from DBH, the owner.
The city kicked off its month-long ULURP process–which requires the community board, borough president, and city council to vote on the site to be rezoned for park use– in February. Once the matter goes through all parties, the city can then purchase the site and begin to work on it.
Several Sunnyside Gardens residents, where the former Phipps Playground site is located, were at last night’s Community Board 2 meeting to show solidarity for the effort.
“Since 2009—nine years and counting—we’ve worked with over 300 Woodsiders, Sunnysiders, and neighbors from afar to reopen this historic parkland,” said Herbert Reynolds, President of the Sunnyside Gardens Preservation Alliance. “We’re very grateful for the demonstrative support.”
While the community board’s vote was only to approve the city’s acquisition of the space, some board members spoke to the park’s upcoming design and features. Many called for the park, at about 10,000 square feet, to be a passive space. Some asked about a comfort station and playground equipment for children.
Lisa Deller, Chair of Community Board 2’s Land Use Committee, reminded the board that conversations and votes about the park’s design can occur once the city finishes its ULURP process.
NYC Parks will work on the park’s design in conjunction with the community board and local stakeholders, according to Jose Lopez, Deputy Director of Parkland and Real Estate for NYC Parks, who was at the meeting last night.
The site is one of the last depression-era playgrounds remaining citywide. Remnants of the old park, like a shed and swings, are still seen today.