By Lisa Kava
If you have a green thumb and are searching for a fun and productive way to use it this spring, the Bloomingdale Playground, on Amsterdam and 105th Street, adjacent to PS 145, needs your help.
“Friends of the Bloomingdale Inclusive Park and Playground,” the nonprofit that maintains the playground, is forming its first Gardening Committee. Volunteers are needed to plant bulbs, and a committee leader is needed to take charge of projects and scheduling.
Time Out called the Bloomingdale Playground “the play space every neighborhood should have.” It was renovated in 2019 as part of the Community Parks Initiative (CPI,) a program run by the Parks Department with funding from the mayor’s office. CPI was started in 2014 with the goal of improving neighborhood parks and playgrounds that have previously been neglected.
Two members of Community Board 7, Rita Genn (former member) and Sheldon Fine, teamed up with a representative from P.S. 145, Cidalia Costa, to form the nonprofit after the renovation. But the three had been working together for years. They brainstormed and shared ideas about the renovation project with each other and the Parks Department since 2014.
“We really wanted children of all abilities to be able to play together,” Genn told West Side Rag in a phone interview. “We wanted children with disabilities to be able to play alongside typically developing children. Social integration of children with special needs was an important goal.”
The idea of inclusivity and accessibility became key to the playground’s renovation. “It was important to us to provide a universal design where anyone could use the space,” Fine told the Rag. “Being inclusive embraces children of all different abilities. Inaccessibility is one part of a physical disability,” Fine said.
The playground was renovated using the “7 Principles of Universal Design,” which include; equitable use, flexibility in use, simple and intuitive use, perceptible information, tolerance for error, low physical effort, and size and space for approach and use.
“The old playground was sad to look at and difficult to use,” Fine said. With the completed renovation, the playground has one section for 2-5-year-old children and another for 5-12 year old children. Benches are arranged in a circular design where adults can sit and socialize. Basketball hoops are different heights, so that children in wheelchairs can use them, Genn explained. The playground is equipped with circular water sprays that spray low to the ground. Equipment has ramps for accessibility and the restrooms are ADA compliant. There is also a fitness area for adults.
In an effort to further the mission of inclusivity and community, Genn, Fine, and Costa decided to form the Gardening Committee for Spring 2022. “We want to open the park to the larger community to come and plant flowers for the summer so that more people can get involved and feel connected,” Fine said. Prior gardening experience is welcome but not required. The first meeting of the Gardening Committee will take place at the playground on May 22nd at 11:00 AM. At that time a committee leader will be chosen. If you are interested in joining the Gardening Committee contact: