Submitted by ub on Thu, 08/23/2012 - 19:02

Parks & Recreation Commissioner Adrian Benepe today joined Manhattan Borough President Scott M. Stringer, Council Member Gale A. Brewer, State Assembly Member Linda B. Rosenthal, Riverside Park Fund President John Herrold, Community Board 7 Chair Emeritus Mel Wymore, community members, and neighborhood children to cut the ribbon on $900,000 in improvements to Neufeld Playground at Riverside Park.

The reconstruction of Neufeld Playground and the adjacent step ramps leading down from Hamilton Plaza, designed by Landscape Architect Margaret Bracken, were generously funded with capital allocations of $500,000 from Borough President Stringer and $400,000 from Council Member Brewer.

“Riverside Park’s Neufeld Playground has long been a favorite play spot for Upper West Siders,” said Commissioner Adrian Benepe. “Thanks to generous allocations from Borough President Stringer and Council Member Brewer, we restored the playground with new amenities that appeal to both toddlers and older children. The result is an improved public space for our community’s kids to get outside and stay active.”

“I'm proud that my office helped fund the reconstruction of Neufeld Playground, a three-year project which will bring outdoor fun and healthy exercise to Upper West kids and their parents for years to come,” said Manhattan Borough President Scott M. Stringer. “This is a great day for the Department of Parks and Recreation, the playground and the neighborhood it serves.”

“I am delighted that the Neufeld Playground is now renovated and includes new play equipment, a better safety surface, working spray showers and improved landscaping,” said Council Member Gale A. Brewer. “The money that I allocated is taxpayer money well spent. I am particularly appreciative of the input from Margaret Bracken, Riverside Park's very own and very talented Landscape Architect, as well as John Herrold, the Administrator of Riverside Park. I also thank Scot Steinberg, a public school parent and leader for the many activities in Elephant Playground, which is the more common name for the Neufeld Playground. Scot Steinberg was a great advocate for this restoration, as was the 75th Street Block Association. I am glad that this restored area is now another gem for children and families in our beloved Riverside Park.”

The amenities feature two restored play areas including one for toddlers and one for older children. New play units, swings and a play house were included. We installed state-of-the-art safety surfacing, a wall for sitting around the sandbox, and an accessible sand table for children with mobility challenges. The asphalt pavement and safety surface was replaced along with a new drinking fountain and benches. The existing plantings were augmented. The blue stone risers and asphalt pavement at the step ramps were also removed and replaced with new blue-stone risers with hexagonal asphalt paves to improve access to Riverside Park.

The playground was built as part of the Robert Moses Depression-era West Side Expansion that doubled the size of Riverside Park. It is named for Henry Neufeld, a Holocaust survivor and local philanthropist. Though he had no children of his own, he enjoyed watching kids play in this playground from his window. In 1990, Neufeld funded the much-needed reconstruction of this playground and provided an endowment for the Riverside Park Fund to help with its ongoing maintenance.