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Pearly Gates open to community

The Pearly Gates are now open for all.

The city Department of Parks and Recreation has opened the Pearly Gates Playground on St. Peter’s Avenue and Tratman Street for all to enjoy.

Although construction crews are still putting thet finishing touches on the handball court, a ribbon cutting ceremony is expected to take place at the playground soon, according to Parks officials.

“It’s beautiful,” said Community Board 10 district manager Ken Kearns, who visited the park on Wednesday, August 11. “It was one of the nicest parks I’ve seen in years, and it was packed. If the community keeps up the use that I saw there the other night, it will be great. The parks department really did a great job.”

Over the past six months, the park was closed to the public as work crews overhauled the nearly 60 year old facility. The project was funded by a $1.5 million city allocation from Councilman Jimmy Vacca and Councilwoman Annabel Palma.

According to city officials, the purpose of the reconstruction was to upgrade safety, accessibility and sustainabilty.

The project included adding new gates to the park entrances, replacing the fencing around the perimeter, putting in more seating areas and installing a small play area for toddlers and children ages 5 to 12.

As part of the project, crews also expanded the existing green spaces, added a water play area for children, re-paved the grounds, replaced furniture and improved the drainage around the playground.

Although this project did not include replacing the playground’s comfort station, it will be completed in a separate upcoming project, parks officials said.

According to Kearns, the park should get a lot of use because it is the only one in the area.

The park was built in 1952 under the joint operation of the parks department and the city Board of Education, and it was originally called the Westchester Playground. In 1998 the park was renamed and Councilwoman Madeline Provenzano allocated $94,000 for an improvement project.

“It had not been done in years, and the difference now is black and white,” said Vacca. “Finally it’s finished. It was one of my major priorities and I’m thrilled it’s completed.”

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