In Bushwick, the East Brooklyn Congregation (EBC) church network has held numerous rallies and town halls over the last several months to push their plans for renovations in Green Central Knoll Park on Central and Flushing avenues, as well as Heckscher Park on Grove Street between Central and Wilson avenues.
The proposal for Green Central Knoll Park totals $9.2 million, and includes a synthetic turf athletic field, pitcher's mound, dugouts, additional lighting and a park overhaul plan, as well as a $1.5 million comfort station, half of which is now funded.
“I am happy to work with the Parks Department to see this comfort station at the Green Central Noll Park in Bushwick realized,” Councilman Antonio Reynoso said. “The $750,000 that will go towards the necessary facility as so advocated by members of the neighboring community and EBC will add a significant change in park experience for a community already starved of open space.”
At Heckscher Playground, EBC has pushed for $4.5 million in renovations for a synthetic turf field, bleachers and adult exercise equipment, as well as recreational lighting.
Councilman Rafael Espinal said he has spent the last several months through budget negotiations and hearings in order to secure $1.25 million dollars for improvements in Heckscher Park.
“The people that reside in that area of Bushwick deserve a decent park with modern-day amenities,” Espinal said. “This allocation was a top priority for me, and that is why I worked to ensure that Heckscher Park receives the resources that it needs.”
A representative of Espinal’s office said the councilman is now awaiting word from the Parks Department about additional funding to complete the project.
At a rally last week on the steps of City Hall in Manhattan, dozens of EBC members rallied to call on Mayor Bill de Blasio for his support.
"The question is, Mr. Mayor, are you just the mayor of Central Park or are you going to be the mayor of Heckscher Playground, too?" Adriane Williams, a congregant at St. Barbara's Church, asked the mayor after he surprised the group at their rally.
After all of the advocacy, Reverend Joseph Hoffman of Saint Barbara's said he hopes the mayor’s support will be enough to guarantee a greener future for Bushwick.
"Mayor de Blasio has the power to improve our neighborhood parks in Bushwick and beyond,” Hoffman said. “We urge him to seize on this opportunity to make our city more equal."