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Floral Park plans big changes to popular Tiny Town playground

No budget or completion date set, but upgrades will include new equipment and landscaping, and a ground surface that is more handicap accessible

Tiny Town playground was donated to the village

Tiny Town playground was donated to the village in the early 20th century. Photo Credit: Jeff Bachner

After 17 years without a face-lift, the Village of Floral Park plans to renovate its popular children’s playground, Tiny Town.

The 13,000-square-foot space, which last saw updates in 2000, is the community’s only village-managed playground. The renovations will include new play equipment, a resurfaced ground, new shade structures, revamped landscaping and more. The village hasn’t determined a final price for the upgrades or a timeline for construction.

Still, parents with young children in the village said they are looking forward to the renovations.

“I do not enjoy going there because I find, oftentimes, that it’s dirty,” said Maryanne Sylenko-Giraldo, a village resident who said she has taken her 4-year-old son and 6-year-old daughter to the playground for the past four years. “That place is miserable to go to when the sun is out because there’s no shade.”

Tiny Town has long been the go-to meetup spot where moms trade parenting secrets, said Floral Park resident Christy Reisig, who said she spent a decade visiting the space with her two daughters.

Village administrator Gerry Bambrick said that although the nearby Centennial Gardens bird sanctuary has a children’s section, Tiny Town has become the more popular of the two because it is dedicated to children. Another reason residents enjoyed the playground was because of a 100-year-old willow tree that had served as canopy shade in the summer before it was cut down last year because it was starting to die, he said.

Once that happened, the village’s recreation superintendent, Kurt Meyfohrt, began pushing for renovations.

In January, officials hired St. James-based RDA Landscape Architecture to work with the village’s recreation committee to develop a renovation plan, Bambrick said. The committee will eventually present the plans for public input, he added.

Reisig, who sits on the committee, said the group is determining specific details, such as which swingsets will be installed and what the new ground surface will be.

Village officials said losing the old tree isn’t the only catalyst for Tiny Town getting a makeover. The playground surface is made of Fibar, a material that resembles mulch or wood chips, and it needs an upgrade.

“It has a Fibar surface, which is not only becoming costly to maintain, but it isn’t ideal from a handicap accessibility standpoint,” Bambrick said.

Every two or three years, the village has to purchase a new batch of Fibar and spread a 2- or 3-inch layer of the material onto the ground. The effort requires 15 people and takes up to eight hours to complete, Meyfohrt said, adding that the Fibar costs between $3,000 and $6,000.

Sylenko-Giraldo said she wants the Fibar replaced with soft turf and new play equipment that looks like what is in place at the nearby John Lewis Childs School for elementary students.

Tiny Town will close in the fall or the early spring while village workers complete renovations, Meyfohrt said. The upgrades will take two weeks to two months, he said.

THE LOWDOWN ON TINY TOWN

  • The land where Tiny Town sits dates to the 1930s when the space was part of a larger plot of land owned by the Wicks family, said Floral Park historian Walter Gosden.
  • The land was donated to the village in the early 20th century under the condition that it remain a recreation space, said Floral Park recreation superintendent Kurt Meyfohrt. When the land became a children’s playground, its first iteration was called Candy Cane City.
  • The village’s recreation committee held a contest among elementary schoolchildren to rename the space in the 1999-2000 school year, and also completed the most-recent renovations. From that contest, the name Tiny Town arose.

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