By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Councilwoman Sara Gonzalez (D-Sunset Park-Red-Hook) celebrated Earth Day by showing the public a newly refurbished section of Sunset Park for local residents to enjoy.
Joined by Brooklyn Parks Commissioner Kevin Jeffrey, members of Community Board Seven and the Sunset Park Revitalization and Improvement Group, and students from PS 169, Gonzalez hosted a ribbon cutting ceremony on April 22 to dedicate new ball fields and a new comfort station inside the park.
The ceremony marked the completion of the latest phase in Gonzalez’s plan to restore the entire park, her spokesman Michael Schweinsburg said.
Sunset Park, named after the community that surrounds it, is located between Fifth and Seventh Avenues, from 41st Street to 44th Street. At its highest point, the park offers breathtaking views of the Manhattan skyline, New York Harbor, and the Statue of Liberty.
As a gift, Parks Department officials presented Gonzalez with a baseball jersey bearing her name and the number 38, representing the district she represents, Council District 38, at the ribbon cutting on Monday.
The $4 million project included the installation of a new synthetic turf, a running track, recreational lighting, benches and a new pathway at the 44th Street and Sixth Avenue entrance as well as the renovated comfort station that is accessible for wheelchair users.
The new, multi-purpose synthetic turf field can be used year round for softball, youth baseball, soccer, and various other activities, according to the Parks Department website.
Recreation lights have been installed, which increase the available hours residents can use the ball fields. The project also included the construction of new dugouts, fencing, a walking track, drinking fountains and landscaping. The adjacent path and plaza were repaved and landscaped, and outfitted with new benches.
At the ceremony, Gonzalez, a lifelong resident of the Sunset Park community, shared some of her memories of her favorite park. “I can remember my mother bringing my sister and me here to play on the swings or swim in the pool and we would go for pizza afterwards!” she said. “I met my future husband here and we’ve been married for almost 40 years now. I want the same fond memories to be formed by families today and for generations to come,” the councilwoman said.
Jeffrey called Sunset Park, “a year-round destination for athletes and park lovers alike,” and said the new turf field “offers a play area for a variety of sports, and the new field lighting means more play time.”
The project was funded by an allocation of $3.2 million from Gonzalez and $1.2 million from Mayor Michael Bloomberg. In 2007, Gonzalez also funded the installation of new pathways, landscaping and new entrances to the park.
Gonzalez has allocated an additional $3.6 million for the renovation of the spray shower and playground near the pool, a project that is expected to begin in fall.
Students from PS 169, which borders the park, were present at the groundbreaking for the project several months ago and returned for the ribbon cutting ceremony.