Arising on the banks of Long Island’s Hempstead Bay, upon what once was an industrial wasteland, is a new neighborhood. Strung along an inlet and linked by a waterfront promenade, the shops, restaurants and play areas of Garvies Point have already become a popular destination for the residents of Glen Cove, NY.
And among the most visible is a signature playground with a towering pyramid slide. Mere weeks after the park’s dedication, it’s already become a favorite of kids and families.
“This is one of the first areas they go to,” Denishia Usher says of her three children, ZyAairé Mejia, 12, Xavier Maldonado, 10 and Alana Rios, 5. “My children love to play on the slide.
“We are grateful for this park and I can see ourselves at this park more than the others in town.”
That was the hope when the MPFP design team of Rick Parisi, Shawn Partin and Hugues Fournier went looking for just the right equipment for the playground they first envisioned years ago.
“We wanted a very significant vertical element that you can you can see from other areas of the site that would drive kids to it,” explains Parisi, MPFP managing director and the lead designer on the Garvies Point project. “We didn’t want to tuck a playground away.”
No danger of that. The playground lies just beneath the sweep of a Great Lawn, looking out beyond the adjacent promenade to Glen Cove Creek. A forest lies behind. Nearby a cluster of residences gives the area the feel of a village.
The Garvies Point Playground, part of the Garvies Point planned development, was always envisioned as being unique.
“We were striving to do something different,” recalls Parisi. The design team didn’t want another typical urban playground with its predictable collection of swings and slides and monkey bars. “We looked towards European manufacturers specifically for something that was like a tower, that felt more original… That was our goal.”
Not only did the team find just the right tower, they discovered a variety of creatively designed equipment that realized their vision for the playground. Working with us at Goric Playgrounds to customize and draw up the technical specs, the team selected the components, decided the arrangement and produced working plans and renderings of what the space would look like when built.
“Goric is one of the best vendors I’ve worked with,” said Shawn Partin, who managed the playground development.
“Not only were they knowledgeable in providing anything I asked for, they provided all their details and CAD, they provided their 3D, they provided all of the cut sections. They helped me understand which pieces of the product I can customize with different colors so that I can achieve the aesthetic, the aesthetic that MPFP and Garvies was after.”
Getting the details exactly right was more critical for the Garvies Point project than for many other, similar developments. Redeveloping what had been an industrial site was envisioned by city leaders as far back as the 1980s. But chemicals from the manufacture of cleaning solvents and such tungsten products as armor-piercing artillery shells left the area so contaminated it was a declared a Superfund site.
Years of cleanup and a parade of developers made the community wary, not to mention weary of yet another proposal when RXR Realty received planning approval in 2014. It would be a few years longer before legal challenges were settled and ground could finally be broken on the $1.3 billion mixed-use community.
“We’ve been working on this since it was in its early master planning stages before the [environmental] remediation,” Parisi says. Though progress was slow because of the clean-up and community concerns, the MPFP team continued to plan and think through how best to create a necklace of open spaces all the way to the bayfront.
“There was a wide variety of passive and somewhat active uses we considered along that necklace,” Parisi says, describing the development process. However, a playground for young children was one of the constants.
The playground design was deeply personal for MPFP. The firm was founded by M. Paul Friedberg who pioneered a playground in Manhattan’s Riis Park Plaza that included pyramids, mounds and tunnels. In 1965, it was a revolutionary design that became a model for future play areas.
“The root of our firm comes from this custom design, this nature of custom designing a lot of the features in our in our parks and playgrounds,” he says.
However, building custom equipment is expensive and time consuming. Goric, the design team discovered, was providing play equipment much like MPFP’s historic designs.
Goric and our manufacturers were “designing things that were very similar to some of the towers and things that we had designed years ago,” Parisi observed. “And we could get them already basically fully [compliant with government standards]. They met the guidelines, met the requirements, and we didn’t have to get custom vendors to build them.”
“We had always told all of the people (in the community and those involved in the project) and those on the planning board, that this playground would be special,” he says. “That was what led us to Goric.”
Preparing for the playground presentation to the community and to the planning board was especially critical because of the project’s history and the promises the design team made to the public and to itself.
Goric’s role was invaluable in providing drawings, technical advice, and “a tremendous amount of feedback in terms of the tweaking of the layout,” Parisi says.
“This has been the best manufacturer we’ve worked with in years.”
When it came time to produce the construction documents, Goric was right there. Partin, who become part of the MPFP team in 2015 when he joined the firm, said Goric was closely involved in the playground construction, speeding along the approvals.
“When I got submittals, in from Goric, they went through the contractor and then came to me,” he explained. “During my review, if I had questions, I worked with them directly. [If something] doesn’t quite look right, or I think I’m missing information, they would fill that in.
“And then I could add the notes back to the submittal. So that it would be approved on the first pass, instead of having to go back and forth three times, like, often can happen with a lot of vendors, during construction. It was very seamless with them, it was a nice experience.”
On a sunny, warm May day Garvies Point Playground was dedicated. Parents and children — lots of children — the developer, city council members, the mayor and others gathered for the ceremonial red ribbon cutting. Within minutes, children were balancing on the scooter, spinning around in the dish and most of all, climbing the tower to slide down the tunnel chute.
The tower and its magical slide has become the signature piece of the entire playground. And that’s just what Parisi and his team wanted.
“That’s what drove us, yeah, exactly. We were on our own tower again.”