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In May, I shared my thoughts about the ongoing renovations to Norris Square Park. Although I looked forward to the much-needed renovations, I was concerned about community members respecting the updated park and its history.

Since then, my Norris Square neighbors seem to really be embracing the new additions that have been completed so far. The first phase of the project focused on the remodeled basketball court and playground. 

The basketball court has a new blacktop and a sun-like drawing at center court, which gives off a radiant mood, along with the new baskets and nets. I’ve seen the hoopers enjoying the basketball court, and they use it every chance they can get. The players mostly play from the afternoon until late at night. During the weekends, they’re at the court all day long. Despite running up and down the court and panting as they catch their breath, it seems they never get tired.

The newly renovated basketball court at Norris Square Park has a new paint job, including a sun symbol in the center of the court. (Photo by Siani Colón)

It’s the same with the kids and their new playground. They seem to be having so much fun swinging on the swingset, hanging off the monkey bars, and using the slide.

Despite my previous concerns, the park visitors are doing their part to keep the park clean. The dog walkers are doing their part by cleaning up after their pets. The basketball players are also doing their parts by not leaving water or Gatorade bottles on the court after they finish playing. With that mentioned, I hope they keep doing what they are doing because it’s working. 

With all this activity going on already, imagine when the park makeover is complete! It’s really going to be a blast. The Norris Square Community Alliance and Marvel Designs really knocked this one out of the park by including the community’s ideas into the makeover. It gave the whole community a lift in a way.

Norris Square resident Darryl Thomas poses for a photo on Nov. 17, 2022 in Norris Square Park. (Photo by Siani Colón)

I spoke with some neighbors to learn how they feel about the park. Jessica walks her dogs in the park daily. 

“I just think they are doing a really good job in the park,” Jessica said. “The kids seem to be having fun, and the trash pickup is going great.” 

Liz, another neighbor, was also walking her dogs when she told me her thoughts about the renovations.

“I see how the basketball courts were the first to get done, and I think they are being used more frequently,” Liz said. “The redo of the playground is so nice as well.”

One person did have some constructive feedback. Benji, a park visitor, said it would be nice if someone could provide shelter and self-help to the people using substances in the park. 

When I asked what grade my neighbors would give the design and construction companies so far, I got two A’s and two B’s. And I kept their suggestions in mind when I considered my opinion of the renovations so far. Personally, I would give them an A. Why such a good grade when the makeover is not yet completed?

First, the construction workers are working around the park visitors without disturbing anyone, so people don’t have to find another park to go while the construction continues. People can still enjoy the quiet and calm of the park. Second, visitors are already enjoying themselves in the park. Third, the construction workers haven’t been procrastinating and are keeping the project timeline on track, and that’s always good.

Lastly, the design choices are a positive aspect of beautification for the park and its visitors. The color contrast of the playground is bright and eye-catching. The basketball court, with its newly painted boundaries and reddish-orange center with white lines, makes it look professional. 

Personally, it’s good to see people enjoying the park as I sit on my stoop or pass by the park. The park itself has come a long way from being a ”Needle Park” to now being Norris Square Park. With all the violence going on in the city, it’s good to see people doing positive things.

Old painted playground games such as Hop Scotch were uncovered at the center of Norris Square Park after the removal of playground equipment. (Photo by Siani Colón)

Most recently, the construction workers have removed the old center playground to build the new amphitheater. Let’s continue this respectful way of using the park while it’s still under construction. Please remember to respect one another and each other’s space, which includes the workers. Keep in mind what they are doing for the community.

Editors: Siani Colón, Zari Tarazona / Designer: Siani Colón