Volume 75, Number 50 | May 3 - 9 2006

At Vesuvio Playground renovation groundbreaking, from left: Amy Kaplan, of LMNOP (Lower Manhattan Neighbors’ Organization for Parks and Playgrounds); Arthur Schwartz, Community Board 2 Waterfront and Parks Committee chairperson; Council Speaker Christine Quinn; Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe; Jennie Delaney, daughter of Tony and Frances Dapolito; Frances Dapolito; Parks Manhattan Borough Commissioner Bill Castro; and Parks Assistant Commissioner Ed Lewis.

A mountain of upgrades coming at Vesuvio Playground

Ground was broken last Thursday for the long-awaited renovation of Vesuvio Park in Soho. Council Speaker Christine Quinn is funding the $2.8 million project, the first renovation of the playground in more than 25 years. Work is expected to be complete by September 2007, according to the Parks Department.

The playground was renamed in the late 1990s for Anthony Dapolito, who died in 2003 and owned the nearby Vesuvio Bakery. The longtime Parks Committee chairperson of Community Board 2, Dapolito, known as “Mr. Parks” and “Mr. Playgrounds,” led the way in acquiring property to create open spaces in the Village and Soho. The former Parks Department recreation center at Clarkson St. and Seventh Ave. S. is named in his honor.

“Vesuvio Playground has been for most of its life a classic, gritty urban play space, but recently it has started to show its age,” said Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe. “Now this park, named for the venerable Italian bakery owned by the late neighborhood advocate Tony Dapolito, will be fully renovated to meet the recreational needs of the 21st century, while celebrating the vibrant but vanishing heritage of the Italian Greenwich Village.”

Parks will replace the 40-year old swimming pool with a brand-new in-ground swimming pool and install new play equipment and a spray shower.

The project also includes a chess and checkers table with benches, as well as landscaping with new plantings and greenery. The handball courts will also receive a facelift.

Dapolito’s former bakery on Prince St. is named for Mount Vesuvius, which in 79 A.D. erupted and destroyed the city of Pompeii. The renovation project was designed in the theme of Pompeii, with Parks designers incorporating research of the historic city into the patterns of the flooring and other elements of the playground.

The playground was acquired in three parcels over the course of 28 years. In 1929 and 1930 Parks purchased two parcels midblock on Thompson St. In 1957, Parks expanded the property south to Spring St. and west to Sullivan St.

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