Rock Climbing at DeSalvio Playground Hits Bureaucratic Wall

Posted on: January 7th, 2022 at 5:02 am by

Photo: Eddie Panta

The newly renovated DeSalvio Playground at Spring and Mulberry Streets in LIttle Italy has been extremely popular since it officially returned in 2019. But a full reopening never happened.

The adjacent luxury development at 75 Kenmare, still under construction when DeSalvio reopened, blocked much of the public space. And even after construction completed two years ago, a fraction of the kids playground has since remained off limits and boarded with plywood. Including the rock climbing wall the abuts the new building.

Ever more irksome given the sharp rebound of park use during pandemic times.

Longtime residents, many of whom are parents, have been inquiring about the rock wall for quite some time, and finally received an answer this week. Chief of Staff for the Department of Parks, Steve Simon, appeared before the Community Board 2 Parks and Rec subcommittee with an update. He explained that the temporary plywood structure blocking access to the climbing wall was set up to prevent kids from climbing up onto the ledge of the window that overlooks the playground.

Simon went on to say that Parks was simply waiting for the developer to complete their own install of an awning barrier that would prevent higher access.

Photo: Eddie Panta

When CB2 committee members asked why it would possibly take this long, Simon appeared at a loss.  “It’s a shame, it’s just nuts.”  And said that his office would reach out to the developer of 74 Kenmare again.

When we contacted the job site manager back in 2019, he said that the developer was not seeking a permanent closure of the park and any barrier in the public space would only be temporary during construction.

In the meantime, kids have taken to scrawling words and pictures across the plywood surface. Perhaps some chalkboard paint is in order here to get the message across to the luxury developers still encroaching on the public space.

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