They had just completed a $643,000 project to reconstruct and expand the bocce court area. But as they strolled through the green space, they saw the old spray shower and saw the need for an upgrade.
“I recognized it when I brought my children here,” Katz said.
“My son played here, too,” Lewandowski added.
Last Wednesday, they joined local officials, civic leaders and longtime park users to break ground on the $2 million revamp of the spray shower area. As of now, the project is expected to be complete next fall.
According to the outgoing parks commissioner, the area will not only have a new interactive spray shower, but also new concrete, lowered fencing and new plantings. The space has also been elevated so it’s “at-grade” and ADA accessible.
The design was completed in consultation with local parents and community members, said Lewandowski, a Middle Village resident who is retiring at the end of the year.
The borough president called Juniper Valley Park her “go-to park during the summer.”
“I bring my kids to the play equipment, we love the tennis courts,” she said. “It really is family friendly.”
Councilman Robert Holden added that he thinks it is the best park in the borough, but it wasn’t always this way. When he became president of the Juniper Park Civic Association in 1989, the park wasn’t in great shape, he said.
The civic group worked with former Councilman Tom Ognibene to rebuild the park “from end to end.” The new state-of-the-art spray shower will continue that progress, Holden said.
Multiple areas are slated for reconstruction at the Middle Village park, including the running track and turf soccer/football field. Holden added that the baseball field doesn’t drain well, and needs work as well.
Though $2 million is just a “drop in the bucket” of all the improvements needed, Holden said the project is still important.
“We never had a great spray shower here. It was always a problem, with the drainage. When you came upon it, it was dangerous,” he said. “So I think it’s a great $2 million spent.”
Steven Fiedler, who chairs Community Board 5’s Parks Committee, said when visitors come in the summertime, the spray shower is packed with children. He said he’s happy with the drainage improvements.
“This will be great to bring the kids in,” Fiedler said. “It’ll be nice and safe.”