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City unveils $155M plan to rebuild neglected parks

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GRAVESEND, Brooklyn — it's known as the Lafayette Playground but Carmine Santa Maria says the Brooklyn park is nothing more than a waste of space.

“There’s nothing to do here. What is there to do here?” said Santa Maria.

New York City Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver agrees, saying “parks like this that are all asphalt are not really usable. We want to have places where people can play. This is like a parking lot with some lines for people to play."

Silver says the Parks Department will spend an additional $155 million to redesign or rebuild a dozen neglected parks across the city.

Commissioner Silver added, “every ten years you want to have refresh of your park. To go two decades, it tells us this park had been neglected for whatever reason. Parks are for both mental health, as well as physical health.”

Park officials say while the new funding will also address community outreach, expanded recreational program and increased maintenance, the primary goal of this initiative is improving the physical appearance of these parks through capital investment.

“We need something else, for the older ones, the teenagers. They got too much time on their hands,” said Annette Williams.

She says teens need more activities to fill their time than they do new benches and trees to fill their park.

“Sometimes these kids just need a hug or somebody to tell them they care and that they love them instead of telling them get out of my face, go outside, do this, do that," said Williams. "I’m tired of hearing on the news about losing these teenagers to violence."