Dangerous Brooklyn Bridge Park Playground Reopens

BHB’s Karl Junkersfeld reports on the reopening of the playground at Brooklyn Bridge Park Pier 1.  It had been shut down due to safety concerns.

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  • Publius

    I see the $18,000,000.00 spent on the architect was money well spent

  • nabeguy

    I was surprised by the depreciation that the overall park seems to be experiencing. The kiddie turf is showing holes, the spinning clown thingies are already starting to crack, and the glass on the magnifying viewer has already been smashed. The potential certainly seems great over an extended period (like 10 years for the trees to grow enough foliage to actually provide adequate shade), but this staged opening presents the problem of having certain parts already looking worn-out as the news ones become available.

  • No One of Consequence

    Is that right, $800,000 for this playground?

  • karl Junkersfeld

    The $800,000 figure is widely quoted by all who have reported on this story. Go to Google and type in “Brooklyn Bridge Park Playground $800,0000″ and you will see numerous references to this outrageous figure.

    I too find it hard to believe.

    This playground reminds me of my cat. My wife comes home periodically with fancy toys for the cat to play with and I just roll up a sheet of paper into a ball and the cat prefers to play with that. This very small playground is overkill. The basic wooden playground equipment like monkey bars, sandbox, water sprinkler and normal rubber matting would have been much less expensive and much more fun for the children.

    What we apparently have here is an architectural vision gone wild with metal orbs and those spinning things and stone figurines that could be harmful if a child falls and hits his head on it. The figurines have very little utilitarian value but appear just an pleasing figure for the adult eye.

    I’m not an expert on what children like in a playground but this design is obviously flawed.

  • AEB

    Not sure what makes this a playground, other than the provision of space and calling it a spot for kiddie recreation.

    What are the half-moon pod things? Do they do anything? Are they meant for climbing? Do they glow in the dark? For extraterrestrial parking? Edible?

    This is so ill-conceived and–apparently–questionably executed that it, to coin a phrase, boggles the mind.

  • LSK

    Is it true the park was commissioned/designed by the EDC, not the Park Dept?

  • Publius

    @LSK. Yes. The Park was built by the Brooklyn Bridge Park Development Corp, which is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Empire Development Corp. After the BBPDC was to finish the park, it was scheduled to be transfered to the State of NY and be a State Park.

    However, just recently, a deal was struck with the City of New York to transfer ownership of the park to the City and in exchange the City will be providing an extra $50+ million to further the build out of the remaining piers which the EDC/State did not have money to find.

    The Park was designed by Van Valkenburgh & Associates, who were paid over $18,000,000 to deliver dangerous playgrounds and substandard groundcover. Anyone else find this an outrageous way to spend exhorbitant amounts taxpayer money?

  • fulton ferry res

    To all the haters: This is a tot playground. There is a larger playground on Pier 6, and there is also the Pirate Ship playground by the Manhattan Bridge, both of which have the more conventional equipment that you long for. As for the design, keep in mind that at that corner of the Pier, which is close to the river and the Bridge, the sight lines would be obscured by any larger type of playground structure. This includes the views from Fulton Ferry Landing out to the Statue of Liberty.

    As for the metal orbs, you may not like them, but every time I am in the park the kids are all over them.

    @LSK The BBP website will give you the list of the design team members:

  • Brookman

    Dear fulton ferry res: not haters just calling it as it is!

  • Publius

    Perhaps the starchitect will provide a refund to the taxpayers out of the $18,000,000.00 fee to pay for all the unbudgeted re-installations?

  • Karl Junkersfeld

    Surely I’m not a hater of the BBP and the efforts of The Brooklyn Bridge Park Development Corporation. I’m in awe of these folks and thank them on my knees every night before going to bed. Can’t one just be critical of the playground apparatus/equipment without being accused of hating?

    This reminds me of some Republicans who accuse Liberals as being anti-American when they have a problem with a conservative philosophical idea. It is a clever way to not address the specific issue but relegate the disagreement to a us vs them argument which lowers the intellectual discourse to a good and bad thematic.

    I hate no one but just think the playground is flawed. The rationale of certain play structures blocking a view is an excellent point and may explain why normal playground equipment wasn’t considered.

  • nabeguy

    Let me say it out loud…I hate this so-called playground. I truly do hope that the $800K figure is a mistake, but if not, I’d like to see a full accounting of every dollar to see where it all went. Into spinning clowns that already are cracked? Into breast-implant-like domes that are griddles? Where did the designer of this playground grow up, in a Skinner box? It’s fun and engaging for all of about 5 minutes. I can only hope that ffr is correct and the one on Pier 6 will be more engaging for older children, even though there is already a compliment of playgrounds, ball fields, basketball and tennis courts within 2 blocks of Pier 6. I guess us North-enders will just have to take the walk.

  • bkre

    I was also dubious of the domes when I first saw them, but I have to say that every time I am over at the park (which is a lot) on a non sunny day, the kids are all over the domes. Some climb up them, some slide down them, some play tag and chase each other while running over them. All of you who don’t get it – keep in mind that the domes are not for you, they’re for kids aged 2-5, and they love them.
    Also keep in mind that the $18 million figure is not just for the architect, but for an entire team of designers including a playground equipment expert. Do you really want the same playground equipment in every playground? If you want to have some cool and interesting playground equipment, you have to have people trying out new things. Some will be great and some won”t work. The jury is still out on this one…

  • No One of Consequence

    I would expect that within the $800,000 a competent playground designer would have been employed and proper testing would have been performed thus sorting the issue of what would be great and what won’t work prior to installation.

    It’s true that kids do seem to like to play on the domes, but as a kid I also liked to play with matches and knives, much to the chagrin of my mother.

  • Karl Junkersfeld

    Let’s put this discussion in perspective.

    Imagine you had a $1.6MM budget to buy a house in Long Island. Your challenge is to find a home for $800,000 because the remaining $800,000 will be needed to build a tot playground for your children to play along with their friends. What super parents.

    The architect comes in and designs the same playground, which eats up half your residential budget.

    Would you be satisfied?

    Then after paying $800,000., half your residential budget, maintenance costs crop up after a month in operation. You’d have a fit.

    By the way, I pondered the argument about sight lines being obstructed and it doesn’t wash. Remember, there are trees that are part of the design of this tot playground which will increasingly obstruct any sightline as they grow bigger and bigger each and every year.

  • nabeguy

    bkre, yes, the domes are great for toddlers…on non-sunny days. Otherwise, bring your asbestos pull-ups. Too much money for too little thought, IMHO.

  • Arch Stanton

    $150 an hour for union labor… $350 an hour for management…. 100% mark up on materials… $800k sounds cheap…. LOL

  • nabeguy

    Interesting point Arch. Without materials, the labor costs alone amount to 40 weeks (did it take that long?) at $500 an hour for a 40-hour/5-day week…$20,000 per week. And this is what we end up with. I could have gone to Home Depot, hired day laborers and cut the cost by 75%…and it probably would have been better landscaped.

  • ABC

    I’ve only been at the playground 3x, and each time I’ve seen a kid stand on the domes and then tumble down (or get pushed down), whacking themselves on the hard surface on the way to the ground. One kid had to go see a dentist. Maybe for the toddler audience it’s okay, but for the “king of the mountain” audience, it’s a little tricky.

    I’m not a huge fan of the BBP so far, but I’m not a hater either. On balance I’m happy it’s getting done. But those domes that burn and the ground cover that’s coming up? Those are just out and out failures. Impossible to defend. If the trees were supposed to shade them, you’d think they’d have the money for big enough trees for the job. And get trees that don’t shed leaves in the winter — or stop the sun from shining in the winter

    Down at the larger playground, there aren’t fences around those big “swing mountain” swings. Mark my words: problem.

  • nabeguy

    +1 ABC. Don’t send a landscape designer to do a playground designer’s job. The whole layout has the feeling of something that was designed from above on a CAD system.

  • Miky

    How many of the above critics have children who have played in the playground? I am not doubting. Truly asking.

    My son loves it there. He isn’t quite two years old and he has a blast. And I am not any more concerned about his safety at the BBP playground than I am at any other playground. So while many are jumping on the criticizing bandwagon, I am not.

    With regard to costs, I have no idea what a playground should cost to build. What do others cost? Keep in mind that this was a public project, which inevitably means extensive review processes, expensive union labor, mandated general contractors, inevitable delays related to contract processing and payment, etc. So maybe $800k is high but until someone can provide more than anecdotal evidence, I am reserving judgment.

  • anon

    What a mess this is. Hasn’t the community been asking for real
    recreation for decades? Isn’t the parks department supposed to
    design and administer our public parks? With usable stuff for kids
    of all ages? Oh, right, I almost forgot. The community’s plan was co-opted by real estate interests in 2004,
    and with the hiring of a LANDSCAPE architect, what should have
    been a master plan for a public park became landscaping for condos.
    Silly me.