Memorial Day weekend marks the unofficial start to summer in many circles, which means families and children will soon be making their way daily to the city’s parks.
At this time last year, the Central Park dog park was all asphalt, and its tennis courts in need of fixing. Schenectady’s “crown jewel,” as its welcome sign puts it, was also left without playground equipment for older kids for the last year, to the ire of some residents.
That will soon change, and residents will notice a couple other upgrades that have taken place in recent months. Here’s a look at what’s new around the city’s parks in 2017:
CENTRAL PARK PLAYGROUND
While young children have been able to climb, jump and slide across different equipment in Central Park along Iroquois Way, older kids are still without anything more than a few swings.
The shaded area near the pavilion and across the parking lot from the kid’s zone has been barren for the past year, after the city removed nearly all the playground equipment because of safety concerns. No lawsuits were filed, but the city’s insurance company deemed the slides and other equipment hazardous.
All that remained was a few swing sets, with city officials saying new equipment wouldn’t be installed until 2017. Residents expressed frustration, and continue to do so, with the city’s decision to remove the structures without any imminent plan to replace them.
City Parks Director Jeremy Howard said the Mayor’s Recreation Advisory Committee received quotes last week on potential equipment, and hopes to install the replacement structures in the next month, or by the end of the summer season at the latest.
“They’re just working back and forth to make sure the proper equipment goes in to service the public and the age groups they’re trying to fit for that playground,” Howard said.
The advisory commission has a $250,000 budget for 2017, and most of that will be put toward the new Central Park equipment, Howard said. The cost of the new equipment hasn’t been determined, though, because a change in one product could significantly spike or reduce the price, he said.
Despite a relatively mild May so far, residents looking to cool down and splash around will be able to when the city pools open in late June.
The city’s four pools will operate on largely the same schedule as last year, Howard said, with the Central Park pool open a few days longer than the other three. The hours are still being finalized, but likely won’t deviate much from the 2016 schedule.
The Central Park pool will open June 26, and close Aug. 26.
The Quackenbush Park pool will open June 26 and close Aug. 18.
The Hillhurst Park and Front Street pools will open June 28 and close Aug. 18.
Visitors will notice a few changes elsewhere in Central Park and in other city parks.
Updates to the dog park — including patches of grass and new play equipment — are nearly complete after work began last fall on the previously all-asphalt surface. The tennis courts in Central Park have been resurfaced and the nets upgraded in preparation for the upcoming season.
In addition to the upgrades to the Music Haven seating area, the stage area in Central Park recently received a fresh coat of paint, trim work and bird netting, Howard said.
Six other city parks received new playground equipment last year, funded through the advisory commission. Those parks included Carrie Street Park, Landon Terrace Park, South Avenue Park, Vale Park, Wallingford Park and the park at 10th Avenue and Webster street. The new equipment totaled $225,000 of the commission’s $250,000 budget in 2016.