A Gerritsen Beach playground named after a legendary local doctor is getting major surgery next year to help treat a serious problem with water retention.
The work planned for Dr. John’s Playground — named for the late Dr. John Elefterakis — will improve drainage and add rain gardens to soak up water in the puddle-prone park at Avenue X and Gerritsen Avenue. The renovations will also include updated playground equipment and repaved walkways.
A friend of the doctor said the playground improvements are a great tribute to the healthcare hero who was truly a neighborhood name.
“He wasn’t a doctor above us, he was a doctor with us — he was your neighbor, your friend, he played ball with you,” said Bob Tracey, the president of the Marine Park Civic Association. “He was very involved with the community.”
The playground was named after Dr. Elefterakis after he died of a brain aneurysm in 1997.
The renovation work is slated to begin in 2016, will cost $2.1 million dollars. Councilman Alan Maisel (D–Marine Park) allocated $1.25 million this year and his predecessor Lew Fidler allocated $1 million the year before for the project.
Maisel said the project will most likely take a few years, but the renovations will greatly improve the low-lying playground, which is especially prone to flooding. Ground settling underneath the playground section and poor drainage have led to massive puddles forming after even a mild rainstorm.
“It is very bad — there is a lot of settling,” he said.
Tracey said the playground upgrades will honor the down-to-earth doctor who made sure every patient who came into his office left feeling better — physically and mentally.
“He was like you, he was like me — you felt like you could tell him anything,” said Tracey. “People felt good going to him.”