Longfellow Park, located along Longfellow Avenue near the Sheridan Expressway, has developed a bad reputation in recent years.
"There was gang activity that was happening in the area. No proper lighting. Individuals were just dumping garbage," said Councilman Rafael Salamanca.
The problems began when the city’s Parks Department closed the park a decade ago, in part because of sinkholes.
City Councilman Rafael Salamanca knew things could be different; he used to play here in the park's heyday.
"This is where I would spend my summers at, you know? My parents really didn’t have the means to take me to a pool far away," said Salamanca.
Enter the Community Parks Initiative, a program launched by Mayor de Blasio to renovate parks that had been long-neglected while green spaces in wealthier neighborhoods were spruced up.
The program seeks to spend around $318 million to improve parks in areas with higher-than-average concentrations of poverty.
$3.2 million was spent improving Longfellow Park, formerly Longfellow Garden.
"There was never enough funding to develop the parks. The community parks initiative allowed us to be able to look at parks that had not been vested in for over 20 years," said NYC Parks Bronx Borough Commissioner Iris Rodriguez-Rosa.
The improvements include new play equipment, seating, sprinkler shower and greenery.
All the upgrades got the stamp of approval from students at nearby PS 75.
"It's beautiful," said one little girl.
"I like how they got water stuff and when it's hot that we will be able to wet ourselves," said another.
Park planners incorporated suggestions by the community by adding features like braille for the visually impaired.
"We try to make the playgrounds all-inclusive cause we want to make sure it’s available for all abilities," said Rodriguez-Rosa.
The Community Parks Initiative is holding meetings to obtain suggestions for additional park upgrades planned around the city.
All upcoming dates are listed at nycgovparks.org.