After waiting more than a decade, Ridgites have gotten one of their parks back — minus volleyball courts that neighbors fervently opposed when they were first suggested by the city.
As we went to press, fences were coming down around the portion of Leif Ericson Park across from the High School of Telecommunications, unveiling a rolling parkland that combines areas for walking and running and sitting — but no venues for active sports.
The park has been closed since 1998, when the city erected temporary classrooms there, for what was supposed to be a one-year period.
But, that year turned into 12, despite complaints by area residents who were sick and tired of waiting to get the open space adjacent to 67th Street, between Third and Fourth avenues, back.
Among the features of the renovations are a new oval walkway, new lighting, and stationary exercise equipment. In addition, the project — which was performed by the School Construction Authority, and overseen by the city’s Parks Department, as part of the agreement between the Department of Parks and the Department of Education that allowed the classroom trailers to be placed there — includes sodding and seeding portions of the park which will then be planted with bushes and trees.
“It’s a tremendous improvement over the trailers,” noted Eric Rouda, the president of the Senator Street Block Association.
In 2008, when an alliance of residents and school officials defeated the volleyball court proposal, Rouda had expressed the concern that volleyball courts would “bring unwanted noise to an area that has been a quiet park space. This was not was contracted for all those years ago. It is not what the neighbors want today.”
Now that the park is done, those fears can finally be laid to rest.
“I can’t wait to take a look at it,”said Jim O’Dea, who opposed the volleyball courts. “Every park doesn’t have to have monkey bars and swings. There should be some places for passive recreation.”
Residents are counting the days till they can get back into the park, said Ron Gross, a resident of nearby Senator Street and a member of Community Board 10.
“We’re looking forward to making use of this beautiful new park,” he said. “It’s taken long enough. The city has done such a beautiful job with parks in the last few years, We’re very fortunate to have one right here.”