Again in March, information broke that the Parks Division had begun assembling a plan to relocate among the metropolis’s beloved animal sculptures when their playgrounds are below development. In the present day, they introduced they’re opening the very first “NYC Parks Residence for Retired Playground Animals” in Flushing Meadows–Corona Park, the place sculptures that will in any other case be despatched to the scrapheap can dwell out their days as public artworks.
Parks Deputy Commissioner Mark A. Focht instructed Gothamist that the choice to create this devoted house for the sculptures was out of respect for his or her influence on New Yorkers’ lives.
“They have been in these playgrounds typically for many years, folks have attachments to their native playgrounds and parks of their neighborhood the place they took their youngsters and their youngsters grew up,” he mentioned. “We totally respect and welcome the very fact New Yorkers have attachments to those animals.”
There are 5 sculptures—two dolphins, one aardvark, one camel, and one frog—who would be the first “residents” of the Queens residence, which is ready to open within the fall. All 5 had been in storage whereas their varied playgrounds have been being revamped; due to their age and state, they would not have been returned.
Focht mentioned that the sculptures might be positioned within the park as is. “They lived a protracted good life, they usually have a pleasant patina to them, they usually’re gonna retire of their present state, no botox, no fillers, no contemporary coat of paint,” he mentioned.
Focht defined that he hoped the house in Flushing Meadows–Corona Park, which can embody new plantings in addition to benches, would function a “contemplative backyard” for guests. Due to the state of the animals, youngsters will not be allowed to climb on them. “They’re not play options, they’re there to be revered, that is why they’re in a backyard setting greater than a playground setting,” he added.
When this was all first rumored again in March, there have been considerations that the Parks Division was going to take away all of the animal sculptures from parks/playgrounds, however Focht confirmed that this might be accomplished on a case-by-case foundation.
“This retired animals challenge is just not its personal initiative, it isn’t a standalone factor,” he instructed Gothamist. “We’re not going out and simply figuring out animals and choosing animals out to proactively transfer them into retirement.” All animal sculptures might be thought-about for parks/playground redesign processes. “If an animal is beloved and the neighborhood desires to retain it in an present web site, it should stay at web site… if an animal is leftover and there isn’t any residence for them, as an alternative of sending the sculpture to a landfill, recycle, reuse, and retire, and [we’ll] maintain them on this park.”
The animal sculptures are the work of former Parks Commissioner Henry Stern, who insisted that each one playgrounds constructed or renovated throughout his two tenures as head of the Parks Division (1983-1990, 1994-2002) ought to function not less than one animal-themed play sculpture. The Brooklyn Paper has some extra pleasant background on Stern’s love of animal structure, in addition to his insistence on flag placements in parks.
As for his favourite one, Focht mentioned he was keen on the camel: “She or he has a sure expression which is kinda good. However they’re all superior, they’re all lovable, we stay up for welcoming them to retirement in Flushing Meadows.”