On July 26, 2023, Parks Department Commissioner Sue Donoghue, NYC Department of Transportation Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez, Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine, Assembly Member Manny De Los Santos, Council Member Carmen De La Rosa, and Community Board 12 joined community members to cut the ribbon on the renovated Monsignor Kett Playground in Inwood, Manhattan. The project—which required $9.5 million in funding from the Mayor’s Office—is the largest reinvestment the City has made in this open space.
Parks has upgraded the playground with new features, including updated spray showers and handball courts, improved lighting throughout the park and basketball courts, new equipment, and an area for quieter play, as well as a space for adult fitness, and another for calisthenics and group exercises. Additionally, Parks has modernized the basketball courts with colorful cushioned surfacing and permanent high-steel bleachers and will also construct a new comfort station this fall.
The renovated playground also incorporates many sustainable design elements, such as increased permeability and native vegetation, additional shade trees, recycled materials, and energy-efficient light fixtures. The design aims to support climate change resilience by locating critical infrastructure above high-water levels and investing in flood-resilient materials in low-lying areas.
Parks designed the playground using its Parks Without Borders design approach, which aims to make parks more open, inviting, and beautiful by improving entrances, edges, and park-adjacent spaces. As a result, Parks has surrounded the playground with greenspace, lowered the perimeter fencing, and built a grand entrance at the corner of West 204 Street and 10 Avenue. For more information about Parks Without Borders, click here.
The City initially acquired the land on which the park sits to construct the Dyckman Houses public housing project in 1948 before transferring it to Parks to build a playground for the building’s residents. The park initially opened in 1949 as the Dyckman Houses Playground, but was renamed in 1997 after Monsignor Francis J. Kett, a Saint Jude’s Roman Catholic Church pastor. Kett is well-known for founding an athletic association and a Catholic Youth Organization, as well as raising funds to construct St. Jude’s School.
Council Member Carmen De La Rosa stated, “The pandemic highlighted an incredible need for reinvestment in equitable open spaces. With Parks and DOT, we have committed to expanding and renovating these spaces because our neighborhoods deserve access to safe outdoor environments to play, exercise, support outdoor programs, and build community.”
Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine stated, “This is more than just a renovated playground—it’s an investment in equity, health, and resiliency for Inwood. From play spaces that meet different accessibility and sensory needs, to features that support healthy lifestyles, to landscaping that mitigates climate change challenges, the new Monsignor Kett Playground is the type of modern open space our city needs.”
By: Dylan Shusterman (Dylan is the CityLaw intern and a New York Law School student, Class of 2025.)