Rock climbing

Escalation at the DeSalvio playground hits a bureaucratic wall

Photo: Eddie Panta

The newly renovated DeSalvio Playground at Spring and Mulberry Streets in Little Italy has been hugely popular since its official return in 2019. But a full reopening has never happened.

The luxury development adjacent to 75 Kenmare, still under construction when DeSalvio reopened, blocked off much of the public space. And even after construction was completed two years ago, a fraction of the children’s play area has since remained off-limits and covered in plywood. Including the climbing wall which adjoins the new building.

Increasingly annoying given the strong rebound in park usage amid the pandemic.

Longtime residents, many of whom are relatives, have been inquiring about the rock face for some time and finally received an answer this week. Parks Department Chief of Staff Steve Simon appeared before the Community Council 2 Parks and Recreation subcommittee with an update. He explained that the temporary plywood structure blocking access to the climbing wall was put in place to prevent children from climbing on the windowsill that overlooks the playground.

Simon went on to say that Parks was simply waiting for the developer to complete their own installation of an awning barrier that would prevent higher access.

Photo: Eddie Panta

When the CB2 committee members asked why it might take so long, Simon seemed confused. “It’s a shame, it’s just crazy.” And said his office would contact the promoter of 74 Kenmare again.

When we contacted the construction manager in 2019, he said that the developer did not want the park to be permanently closed and that any barriers in public space would only be temporary during construction.

In the meantime, the children got into the habit of scribbling words and pictures on the surface of the plywood. Perhaps a little slate painting is in order here to get the message across to luxury developers who are still encroaching on public space.