LYNN — More than $600,000 worth of work will be completed this summer to renovate and fix up the city’s dilapidated parks and playgrounds, which city officials say may serve as a deterrent to vandalism or other criminal activity.
The funds that will be expended for the projects are from a $4 million bond authorized by the City Council in 2015 and amended by another vote last year.
James Marsh, community development director, said his office will likely supplement the work with an additional $100,000 in funding through community development block grants. The work is meant to complement major renovations at the city’s larger parks, such as work in progress at the Lynn Commons and what’s been done in the past at McManus, Manning and Fraser fields, he said.
“The bond is a way to make sure the smaller neighborhood parks get their fair share and have safe structures and are safe parks for kids … and take away that element that would attract a bad element at nighttime or any time,” Marsh said.
Many of the parks targeted by the bond are in disrepair, Marsh said, with backboards on basketball hoops that are missing and courts that are cracked.
Warren Street Playground will see a lot of work, or $120,000 worth, as it’s one of the most used parks in the city and the most in need of repairs, he said.
Work will include putting in two new basketball courts, a new playground and removing the existing swing set, according to Ward 6 Councilor Fred Hogan, who represents the area.
“This is something we’ve been trying to get done for years,” Hogan said. “We targeted it heavy because we knew that park had to be renovated because it’s so important for the area.”
The Warren Street park is always full of kids and is used a lot, Hogan said, but it’s developed a bad reputation for gang activity over the years. In the daytime, there’s no violence, but it’s hard to watch a park at nighttime, he said.
“What they’re going to do is brighten it up, give it some life and make it a clean and safe place for kids,” Hogan said. “Maybe we clean it up, get some pride in the park (and it) will police itself. I’m very excited that we’re doing something positive.”
Another park in the area, the Bennett Street Playground, will see $50,000 worth of renovations, which includes replacing a dilapidated basketball court with a new playground set. About a decade ago, rims were taken off of the court’s hoops because of problems with gangs. The idea with the planned renovations is to make it more of a park for kids, Hogan said.
Another major upgrade will be $108,000 worth of drainage improvements at Gowdy Park. Ward 1 Councilor Wayne Lozzi said the park, which includes a baseball field, floods every time it rains.
“It used to be muddy,” Lozzi said. “Now, it’s ponding. It really is having an adverse impact.”
Several other parks will see improvements. The Williams Avenue Playground, near where a homicide occurred last month, will see an upgrade of its basketball courts and playground equipment, which includes removing what Marsh called a dangerous 1970s-style slide.
The idea is to make it a passive park for younger kids, Marsh said.
Keaney Park will see basketball court repairs, Flax Pond Playground will have irrigation improvements, Lynn Woods will see play equipment and court restoration. Other parks included in the bond are Sheridan Street Playground, Goldfish Pond Park, Kiley Playground and Frey Park.