By Celia Bernhardt | [email protected]
The city’s Parks Department kicked off the redesign process for Ridgewood and Glendale’s Mafera Park on Tuesday Dec. 5, with a community scoping meeting on Zoom that drew about 40 people.
Racking up $500,000 in funding from Borough President Donovan Richards and $3.5 million from Council Member Robert Holden, the capital project involves reconstructing the playground and sprinklers. District Manager Gary Giordano said that the park has held up generally well since its last renovation in the 90s, but has suffered some deterioration.
“It’s just age,” he said. “The safety matting gets worn, the playground equipment gets worn.”
With the closest playground a ten minute walk away at Beninger Park, Mafera’s playground is a go-to spot for parents who live nearby.
Tuesday’s scoping meeting marked the beginning of a 10-15 month design process.
“It starts tonight with listening to you all,” James Mituzas from NYC Parks’ capital team told attendees over Zoom. “We listen to your wants and desires of what you want to see at the playground. We’ll put pen to paper and create a conceptual design; that takes us roughly four to five months. And at that juncture, we’ll take that conceptual design and bring it to you at Community Board …and they’ll tell us whether or not we got it right.”
Mituzas explained that tweaks can still be made in response to the board’s feedback. After that, the procurement process (consisting of plenty of contracts and legal reviews) will take about a year; then, construction can last between a year and a year and a half.
“Unfortunately, the best time to work is the best time to go into a park,” Mituzas said. “You’ll lose a season with this, and in the end, you’ll have a brand new playground.”
Frank Vero, the landscape architect and project manager for Mafera’s makeover, introduced himself to the Zoom attendees. He recalled moving with his wife and kids to the neighborhood in 2017.
“We’ve lived in Ridgewood for about five years, and this was one of our main parks that we came to,” Vero said. “So it’s really exciting to get to now take that park that we spent five years using as our backyard and try to make it better for all of you.”
Vero listed off several considerations the department keeps in mind whenever it embarks on a park redesign: heat mitigation (especially through tree canopies), managing stormwater, tree preservation, accessible design, and welcoming entrances. He also highlighted building additional seating areas for caregivers, bringing in “new, interesting, fun” play equipment for kids, building small fences within the wide-open playground to make things more manageable for caregivers, and strengthening the water spray features as specific ideas for Mafera.
Building barriers throughout the playground, especially to create some distance between younger and older kids, was an idea echoed by multiple parents during the open comment section of the meeting that followed. Also mentioned by a couple parents was creating more visibility through play structures, as the current density of the design can make it difficult to keep one’s child always in sight.
The bathroom was mentioned by some as an area that could use improvements, but Parks officials reminded the public that it was outside the scope of work.