Workers are putting finishing touches on a $2.4 million renovation of Carle Place's Charles J. Fuschillo Park, which will include the first accessible playground in the Town of North Hempstead for children with disabilities.
The park is set to reopen July 22, town officials said Thursday during a tour of the 4.3-acre recreation area that was built in 1946.
Longtime Carle Place resident John T. Heslin said Thursday that he and his group of fellow retirees are excited to return to their beloved park.
“The whole community is dying for this,” said Heslin, 83. “We seniors have our meetings every Tuesday here and we get 80 to 100 seniors every single Tuesday.”
In 2019, former Councilwoman Viviana Russell and then-Town Supervisor Judi Bosworth held a meeting to gather feedback from residents about potential park improvements. Town officials identified the hockey rink, a playground and an open recreational area with seating as underutilized areas.
Workers demolished the hockey rink to make way for a splash pad area with a sitting water wall for children.
The new playground, which includes a ramp for better accessibility, is on the footprint of the old playground and also includes new padding as an added safety feature.
The area near the park's entrance has additional plants and other greenery alongside a new boccie ball and cornhole area. An exercise area that includes a dip bar is another new feature, along with a shaded seating area and a pingpong table.
Other outdoor spaces at the park include a baseball field and basketball and tennis courts.
The town hired Melville engineering firm NV5 in August 2020 to consult on the project and prepare drawings before construction began in January.
“It’s going to be a wonderful place for families to able to sit and spend a lot of time together,” North Hempstead Town Supervisor Jennifer DeSena said Thursday at the park.
She added that North Hempstead officials are proud to bring the first accessible playground for children with disabilities to the town.
The project didn't surpass budgeted funding, town officials also noted Thursday.
DeSena said residents were fortunate the Long Island Rail Road’s Community Benefit Fund contributed $1 million toward the renovation. The fund was designed to support local quality-of-life initiatives throughout the construction of LIRR's Third Track project.
The park upgrade was the most extensive set of upgrades to the facility in about 30 years after previous minor improvements.
Councilman Robert Troiano said he was excited to see the changes at the park Thursday, where he played basketball as a teenager.
“Even then, 50 years ago, there was a big gray slab of cement that was underutilized. And now that’s being put to good effect,” he added. “… It’s really very exciting and it’s something the Carle Place community has been looking for, for probably decades.”