Press Releases

Thursday, October 08, 2020
No. 43


NYC Parks / Daniel Avila

NYC Parks today announced the completion of a newly created open space featuring a passive recreation, synthetic turf area at Little Flower Playground on the Lower East Side. The upgrade transformed the site of the long-abandoned LaGuardia Bathhouse into new space for the neighborhood. The creation of this new space is responsive to the community’s need for supplemental recreation space during the East Side Coastal Resiliency (ESCR) project--a $1.45B flood protection and park improvement project at East River Park that will save lives for decades to come. Little Flower is one of a number of improvement projects Parks committed to in order to mitigate the forthcoming phased park closures.

“Access to quality open space is essential for Lower Eastsiders while we work to provide lifesaving flood protections to this neighborhood through the ESCR project,” said Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver, FAICP. “We are happy to deliver new, improved and enhanced park spaces to serve the community while their beloved East River Park is made more resilient than ever.”

Little Flower Playground
The new turf area is part of a $10 million investment in Little Flower Playground, beginning with the demolition of the LaGuardia Bathhouse, a 1930s-era facility that had fallen into disrepair and was closed for many years. Following the demolition, a synthetic turf passive lawn was installed over the site, transforming it into a gathering place for the community. As part of the project, the benches in the adjacent seating plaza were cleaned and repainted and a barbecuing area was added with new grills. A separate project will upgrade the playground, seating area and plaza.

In addition to the new synthetic field at Little Flower Playground, Parks has completed the following, previously announced, ESCR-related mitigation projects:

New Synthetic Turf

  • Tanahey Playground

New Sports Coating

  • Alfred E. Smith Playground (spray shower)
  • Alfred E. Smith Recreation Center (basketball)
  • Coleman Playground (spray shower, games)
  • Columbus Park (volleyball)
  • Sara D. Roosevelt Park (soccer)
  • St. Vartan Park (basketball)
  • Tanahey Playground (basketball courts)
  • Murphy Brothers Playground (basketball)

Painting Upgrades and Spruce Ups

  • Alfred E. Smith Playground (comfort station doors, play equipment)
  • Alfred E. Smith Recreation Center (building exterior, handball)
  • Baruch Playground (play equipment, handball, benches)
  • Coleman Playground (comfort station, play equipment, railing, swings, benches, handball, sidewalk repair, added picnic tables)
  • Little Flower Playground (benches, handball, play equipment, basketball backboards, comfort station exterior)
  • St. Vartan Park (handball)
  • Tanahey Playground (playground equipment, benches, railings, sidewalk and pavement repair)
  • Tompkins Square Park (storage containers, benches, handball, comfort station door, adult fitness equipment, backboards, fence removal)

Seward Park Parkhouse / Lower East Side Ecology Center

  • NYC Parks is finalizing upgrades to the parkhouse - the soon to be new temporary home of the Lower East Side Ecology Center (LESEC), where they will present programming. Upgrades include:
    • Roof repairs
    • New LED lighting
    • Interior painting

Neighborhood Greening

  • In addition to the 1,800 trees planned for the new park, NYC Parks is in the process of planting 1,000 trees in Community Boards 3 and 6.
  • To date, 330 trees have been planted on neighborhood streets and in neighborhood parks.
    • 211 street
    • 119 park
  • NYC Parks has completed an inventory of plants in East River Park. This will inform efforts to transplant viable planting beds to other parks in the district, as construction timing and access allows.


  • Replaced BBQ grills at Alfred E. Smith Recreation Center
  • Added new BBQ grills at Little Flower Playground

Projects that will begin and/or completed by the end of 2020:

New Open Spaces at Pier 42

  • This fall, Parks and EDC will begin construction to create new open spaces with the Pier 42 Upland Park and the Pier 42 Deck projects.
    • The Pier 42 Upland Park is a long awaited new waterfront open space that will feature a new playground, comfort station, walking paths, and lawns. Parks and EDC will incorporate seal, crab, and turtle sculptures from East River Park at the new park. Anticipated completion Summer 2023.
    • EDC will also implement structural repairs to the deck at Pier 42 and install sports fields to facilitate additional recreational space during ESCR construction. Anticipated completion Summer 2022.

Painting Upgrades and Spruce Ups

  • Robert Moses Playground (basketball backboards, comfort station doors) – Fall 2020
  • St Vartan (benches, basketball backboards, comfort station doors) – Fall 2020
  • Corlears Hook (benches, planters, replace lawn fence) – Fall 2020
  • Columbus Park (comfort station doors and divider) – Fall 2020
  • Cherry Clinton Playground (adult fitness, handball, basketball backboards, benches) – Fall 2020
  • Hamilton Fish (recreation center doors, two corner pavilions, basketball backboards) – Fall 2020
  • First Park (play equipment, benches, low wall, spray shower, sculpture) – Fall 2020
  • John Jay Park (install tennis, benches, handball, adult fitness) – Fall 2020

Sports Coating

  • Little Flower Playground (basketball) – Fall 2020

Neighborhood Greening

  • In addition to the 1,800 trees planned for the new park, NYC Parks is in the process of planting 1,000 trees in Community Boards 3 and 6.
  • Planned for Fall 2020: 192
    • 156 street
    • 36 park

“The expansion of public open space at the Little Flower Playground will provide much needed relief to Lower East Siders stuck in their apartments during the COVID-19 crisis,” said Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney. “This project will help mitigate East Side Coastal Resiliency Project related closures in East River Park. I commend the Parks Department for working swiftly to ensure that Lower East Side residents have access to alternative outdoors space.”

“I am elated to see the Bathhouse transformed into a space that will soon become a fixture of the Lower East Side,” said Rep. Nydia M. Velázquez. “As the pandemic progresses, we’ve seen our neighbors use outdoor spaces as a safe way to promote physical and mental wellbeing. I applaud all those involved in the opening of the new and improved Little Flower Playground, and hope the community can enjoy this shared space for many years to come.”

“Every square foot of parkspace is a blessing, especially during the pandemic,” said Senator Brad Hoylman. “A century ago Fiorello LaGuardia knew just how important parks are to New Yorkers and our kids. I’m glad to see his legacy continue with the completed renovations at the Little Flower Playground, as we all look forward to the reopening of East River Park.”

“The improvements at the Little Flower Playground will benefit the Lower East Side for many years beyond the East Side Coastal Resiliency project,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer.

“Throughout the pandemic, open and outdoor space has become critical for physical and mental wellness. The improvements of these parks offer new and exciting ways for the Lower East Side community to enjoy a variety of activities that meet health and safety guidelines,” said Council Member Margaret S. Chin. “With the increased demand for open space, I am proud to stand with the NYC Parks Department as we celebrate the reopening of Little Flower Playground and improvements of other parks.”

“This is a great project that will provide much needed recreational and open space for the community as the city works to address sustainability and resiliency needs of the city,” said Council Member Peter Koo, Chair of the Committee on Parks and Recreation. “Many thanks to the Parks Department for working to transform underutilized locations that will ensure our neighborhoods have access to high quality open space and parks throughout the city.”

“Green, open spaces have become even more valuable as the city has grappled with COVID,” said Council Member Keith Powers. “Now, as we work to enhance and protect our park space for decades to come, my constituents will have the added benefit of more green space as necessary construction gets under way for the East Side Coastal Resiliency Project.”

“As we prepare for the start of the East Side Coastal Resiliency Project, which will protect our communities from the realities of climate change, it's imperative that impacted residents have access to alternative green spaces,” said Council Member Carlina Rivera. “I'm thankful that the Parks Department is working quickly to ensure that Little Flower Playground and 11 other parks in our community are already receiving improvements and new amenities like sports fields and BBQ grills for residents to enjoy even before ESCR construction begins. These efforts, which also include hundreds of new trees planted to date, show a continued effort from the City to leave a lasting positive impact in our neighborhoods beyond just the construction of a life-saving resiliency project to protect us from the next Sandy. I look forward to the completion of the numerous additional mitigation projects coming in the next few months.”

“From the initial day when the barbeque pits were put in, the new turf area has been fantastic,” said Felicia Cruickshank, Tenant Association President, LaGuardia Houses. “The next day there were parents there, with their kids on blankets, having a nice time. It's been wonderful, and the colors and the paintings look great. A bright point for everyone, it's an amazing little park! The kids are very excited about it!”

“Community Board 3 is very happy to have this open space available for our community,” said Alysha Lewis-Coleman, Chair of Manhattan Community Board Three. “It is more important than ever for the many of our residents who cannot leave the city and have very limited options because of COVID-19 to be able to have our parks and playgrounds and recreational fields available.”

“Manhattan Community Board Six welcomes this announcement, as it allows communities affected by the East Side Coastal Resiliency Project to have supplemental open space during construction,” said Molly Hollister, Chair of Manhattan Community Board Six. “We eagerly anticipate future work that will improve our waterfront, such as an upgrade to Waterside Pier and the addition of 1,000 trees in Community Districts 3 and 6. We look forward to having a waterfront that our residents can enjoy and be proud of.”

The balance of mitigation commitments will be completed by Summer 2021:

New Synthetic Turf

  • Peter’s Field – Spring 2021
  • Robert Moses Playground – Spring 2021
  • St. Vartan Park – Spring 2021
  • Waterside Pier – Summer 2021

Painting Upgrades and Spruce Ups

  • Waterside Pier – Summer 2021


  • Dry Dock Playground – Spring 2021

NYCHA Open Space Improvements

  • Parks, in conjunction with NYCHA, will implement select open space spruce ups at the following locations by Spring 2021:
    • Alfred E. Smith Houses, Lillian Wald Houses, Campos Plaza II, Riis Houses, and Seward Park Extension.

Neighborhood Greening

  • In addition to the 1,800 trees planned for the new park, NYC Parks is in the process of planting 1,000 trees in Community Boards 3 and 6.
  • As a part of the ESCR greening efforts, NYC Parks will install 40 rain gardens in Community Boards 3 and 6 during ESCR construction.


  • To extend field play in the spring season, the City will place more than 40 solar-powered moveable ballfield lights in six parks starting in Spring 2021—ensuring extra hours played each day.

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