The Nieuw Amersfort Community Association (NACA) invited Park and Recreation Manager for NYC Parks Danielle Goldfarb to their monthly meeting, sparking conversation about Amersfort Park’s history, condition and proposed future plans.
The meeting, held at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church at 3913 Avenue J, began with speakers from the 63rd Precinct. NACA president Steve Yamin gave updates and announcements before introducing Goldfarb.
“The last time I was here, the fountain was not working and now…it looks beautiful,” Goldfarb said of past joint efforts.
Goldfarb has been managing parks within community boards 17 and 18 for four out of the 24 years she has been with the Parks Department. “Amersfort is actually one of my favorite parks,” she added, and then explained why Amersfort Park was different from other parks.
Amersfort Park is a legacy park, meaning that there are certain features that may or may not be included. For example, the park does not have any play equipment for children, but there is a gazebo, picnic area, fountain and bench seating.
“Those are your differentiations between your regular playground and something that’s a little more quiet, a little more residential, and I want to quote, like a ‘classic’ park,’” Goldfarb said.
A Parks Department annual report for 1904 supported her statement with the following excerpt:
“Amersfort Park, bounded by Avenues I and J, East Thirty-eighth and East Thirty-ninth streets, was recently acquired by the City. There are no buildings located thereon and it can be turned into a useful and ornamental park at little expense.”
Yamin and residents said that it was meant to be a “quiet” or “sitting” park, but there were kids that came to play soccer, football, cricket and other sports until berms and picnic tables were installed to cover the open area while former D45 Councilman Kendall Stewart was in office.
Goldfarb said that field sports could be played at nearby Paerdegat Park on East 40th Street and Albany Avenue and then spoke about how she handles permits.
“When I look at a permit for a park like Amersfort, I always consider the community that it’s in,” she said. “If it’s really residential or a little more open, how many people can you really have in an event in that size of a park?”
Residents expressed concerns about littering and dumping in the park, especially large items like TVs, bedsprings and mattresses, which Goldfarb acknowledged to be a chronic problem at many of the parks. Goldfarb has requested the installation of dumping cameras in problem areas, and Amersfort Park is on the list. There is a way to track and summon offenders if a picture is taken of the act and identifying materials can be found in the trash.
Community members also wanted to know what could be done to paint the rusting wrought iron fence dating back to 1911 that surrounds the 3.5-acre park, which Yamin said was last painted about 15 to 20 years ago.
Goldfarb said that Partnership for Parks’ Brooklyn Coordinator Karly Chamblee is exploring the idea of using their volunteers to paint the fence and also mentioned other volunteer opportunities.
NACA Treasurer Gilbert McLean said that it would be better to hire a contractor to do a big job like that because the fence has to be scraped first and there is lead in the paint.
Future plans for the park may or may not include installation of a dog run and/or fitness area since both proposals were on the District 45 Participatory Budget ballot to be voted upon that week. It will depend on the outcome of the vote and whether a legacy park like Amersfort Park can accommodate either one.