Long-Delayed Riverside Park South Playground and Plaza Expected to Open This Month, Without Bathroom Building

The new playground in Riverside Park South is visible through a fence. Photos by Joy Bergmann.

A playground and plaza expected to open a year ago in Riverside Park South should open in the next month, the parks department tells us.

The new playground at 66th Street is Phase 5 of a major reconstruction project in Riverside Park South. The first four phases of that project were completed before 2008, but the last two phases have dragged on and several elements remain unfinished.

Much of the project remains unfinished.

The playground and plaza were supposed to be done by September 2018, but were impacted by several construction delays. “This project proved to be highly complicated,” the parks department said in a statement.

Underground utilities and other “obstructions” had to be removed, and the soil had to be “remediated”, though it wasn’t found to be hazardous. Also, the department removed a comfort station from the project.

Even when it opens, the project won’t be fully complete. “When the plaza and playground are opened, after a number of the final punch list items are executed, there will be a temporary fence put around the space, allowing for it to be open during the day and closed at night until lighting is installed,” the parks department said.

NEWS, OUTDOORS | 24 comments | permalink
    1. Richard Weil says:

      What a shock! Parks taking 11 years from the end of phase 4 to complete a playground! And it’s still not done. And no bathrooms. And no lighting. They should be ashamed. But they have no shame. They said the project got “highly complicated”. President Kennedy announced in 1961 that by the end of the decade we would put a man on the moon. Eight years later they did it. And with technology less sophisticated than a smart phone. Maybe Parks should have sub contracted out to NASA to solve their highly complicated problem to build a children’s playground. The Department of Parks and Recreation in NYC sucks. They are incompetent, I have not determined yet if they are stupid, but with the highest degree of certainty, I know they do not care. They simply do not give a s***. And accountability is not in their mandate.

      And I speak from experience. It took them seven years just to start the renovation of the Bull Moose Dog Run at the Museum of Natural History. Finally it started the first of August (thanks largely to the efforts of Elaine Boxer with generous funding from Gale Brewer). I got involved 18 months ago and what I experienced is that they do not return phone calls and emails, and they say they will do something and they never do. And once construction started we asked for an alternate, temporary location which conveniently happens to be right next to the current dog run, and is not used and is gated, and granted, we asked after construction started, but they should at least have the courtesy and professionalism to return a phone call or email. I’ve called and emailed multiple times.

      So is it any shock that the playground is still not done? Shock no. Outrage yes. I guess the children can pee and poop in their diapers. Way to go Parks.

      Richard Weil
      Upper West Side
      30 years and counting

      • Beverly says:

        Exactly, Rich. That’s why the dog run projected to be open by end of October will NOT happen.

      • James says:

        Look, I don’t know if the Parks department is incompetent or corrupt or what, but Richard’s statements seem like broad generalizations and pretty narrow.

        Maybe it’s true that the department should have more professionalism in returning his phone calls, but does he really know objectively that the reason the project took extra time is because “they have no shame.”?

        To make an informed judgement on this I think we would need to understand more about the product budget, what the complexities were, if work ever stopped to be diverted to other priorities, and many other things.

        Often on WSR folks make judgement without considering the concept of scarcity. There are scarce people, money, time, etc. Government effectiveness is as much about allocation of resources as competence.

        If every project that takes 5 years too long could be expedited by an increase in your taxes, would you vote for that at the ballot box or just start complaining about how high our taxes and cost of living already are?

        • Richard Weil says:

          1. Parks is incompetent. Explain to me how it takes more than 11 years to build a playground and it’s still not complete. It’s a playground.
          2. Explain to me how it took more than 7 years to start construction to regrade a dog run.
          3. Maybe you wouldn’t be ashamed if you were in charge of this sort of thing, but I would, and anyone else who has pride in their work would be too.

          Don’t tell me I’m judgmental. I put a freedom of information request in for the budget and got it. I have the facts. How does a $2000 poop bag dispenser sound to you? How about a $6500 decorative garbage can? Don’t tell me about raising taxes to pay for anything. The budget was approved years ago for the dog run. $640,000 for one quarter of an acre of a dog run just to regrade the surface and fix the drainage, and a few extras like new benches. I did my due diligence. The parks is not only incompetent, they couldn’t care less.

          And I’m not complaining about how high our taxes are. You’re the one making judgments about me without any information. Get the facts first and think before you speak.

        • Glitter says:

          It’s the unions. They suck

    2. Pedestrian says:

      No rest rooms! Well that’s so smart. It’s not surprise. The City has real problems figuring out what humans actually need.

      • ScooterStan says:

        Mr. Weil and ‘Pedestrian’ both say the above BETTER than my comment!

        THANK YOU, gentlemen, for exposing the ‘citizen-be-damned’ attitude of yet one more city bureaucracy.

        Hmmm…BdB’s second term expires 2021, as does current City Comptroller and former Manhattan Boro Pres. Scott Stringer’s.

        Stringer would be an excellent mayor…AND he is also an UWS’er, familiar with this area’s needs.

      • NYYgirl says:

        Maybe it’s related to the brilliant idea that someone somehow sneaked through about removing garbage cans along West End Avenue lol

    3. Kathleen says:

      How does one access this area and is anything else complete besides the playground?

    4. Dolores Del Rio? says:

      Why was the “comfort station” removed? Were the Riverside South residents afraid it would attract an undesirable element?

    5. 3 city kids says:

      We are very excited! This is a terrific addition to the blvd. Thank you to the riverside park conservancy for all your hard work!

    6. Roger Wolfe says:

      the playground looks inviting and pleasantly designed. However, typical of New York City, no bathroom facilities is shortsighted and inconvenient.
      I hope that this lack will be ameliorated shortly. It is particularly difficult for parents of young children and the elderly.

    7. Liz says:

      Why thank Gale Brewer? How about the taxpayers??

      • Richard Weil says:

        Liz, you are correct. We all added a piece of the pie and so we all share in the end product. Gale was the honest and concerned broker of the deal. We may never have seen our own money without her. And Gale showed up at the going-away-for-now dog run party the day before construction began, bright and early on a Saturday morning, and she had 17 more events that day! She didn’t have to be there, but alas, there she was.
        So congratulations to all taxpayers, and to a politician, and animal activist, who helped break ground.

    8. Jerry B says:

      This level of City administrative incompetence is indicative of the arrogance and disregard of all of us by our mayor and his staff.

      Instead of forcing school integration, how about giving our public schools the funds they need, encouraging teacher excellence and paying teachers higher wages?

      Instead of paying millions to settle lawsuits against NYC, how about fixing the problems that caused the cases to be filed?

      Yes, let’s elect Scott Stringer as mayor. Let’s elect Helen Rosenthal as our next comptroller.

      PS — The same housekeeping is needed in Albany, where the state administration is totally under the thumb of an arrogant governor whom they privately hate. The state legislature is improved but cannot act in our best interests until Mr. Cuomo is put out to pasture.

    9. JR says:

      There is a bathroom 5 minutes away at the bottom of the ramp leading to the pier.

      • Lives on w 66 says:

        Sadly that’s not helpful for little kids or older people watching children who have to shlep back up the hill after.

    10. Michael Engber says:

      Did I read this correctly? “The department removed a comfort station from the project.” It’s not that they failed to include one. One was planned but they decided to remove it. Who decided? Why? Do they know who uses playgrounds?
      There’s a comfort station several blocks north, right next to the bike path. I’ve repeatedly asked that they consider installing secure bike racks outside the comfort station. No response and no action.

    11. SC says:

      This is a disaster, a nice idea that is 5 years too late, badly located and all concrete – and completely unnecessary. It should have been built near 57th – 59th streets with new construction. They destroyed this beautiful, hilly, green space where children played freely – and it kept the earth cool. To build a concrete jungle in a concrete jungle was just plain stupid – planners??
      Poor dog owners have had no dog run for 5 years and still nothing now.
      Construction for the first 3.5 years was zero.
      This monstrosity should be obliterated. The residents would be much happier with just rolling hills of green grass.

      • Mom of 3! says:

        I have not seen this playground and it is not convenient for me and my children. We live further uptown. But are you saying the surface of the playground is concrete?

    12. Frank says:

      This area was great when it was just a big grass field. People in the community would bring their dogs out at night to run around the field and it was the best dog park in the city. Granted, it was all “off limits” and the citizenship had to take it into their own hands to rig the gate so everyone could get in – but it worked and people liked it.

      And the lower field which has been destroyed was used by people to play baseball, soccer, football, etc.

      this entire playground concept was overdone and unneccesasry. They could have put up a swing-set and a slide and a few other jungle gym things in the lower field and saved the money to build a bathroom.

      Instead we got this over engineered waste of time and money. And it destroyed an area the actual community was using every single day and night. It would be nice if our “community leaders”, like Ms. Rosenthal, would actually see what the real community is doing.

      We loved the open grass fields. For our dogs, children, and anyone that needed space to place a game.

      What a shame.