Beloved by Providence families and Brown students alike, Brassil Memorial Park on the corner of Brook St. and Arnold St. is currently under construction, with a new playground expected to be completed in spring 2024.
The playground was torn down mid-October and is currently undergoing a “comprehensive redesign to revitalize this space,” according to Josh Estrella, press secretary for Mayor Brett Smiley’s office.
The redesigned park will include playgrounds for 2-5- and 5-12-year-olds, a paved area for ball play, seating areas and new fencing and gating, Estrella wrote in an email to The Herald. The redesign will also include “a custom log scramble, rain gardens to absorb stormwater runoff” and natural spaces for trees, shrubs and perennials.
The revitalized park will also include swings and slides, according to plans reviewed by The Herald. Since construction began in late October, some play structures have already been installed.
The city initially allocated funding for the park’s redesign in 2020, according to Estrella. Since 2021, the city has held numerous “community meetings” to inform the redesign. Bénédicte Brouder, head of school at the nearby French American School of Rhode Island, told The Herald she was satisfied with that process.
FASRI has used Brassil Memorial Park as a recess area for “years and years,” Brouder said. “We have been lucky to be in conversation from the start with (the City of Providence’s Department of Parks), and we were able to give our ideas as a school.”
Brouder’s feedback for the city has been primarily about safety concerns, but she said she appreciates the park’s trees and flat space to play soccer, both of which will remain for the spring. In the meantime, FASRI’s recess is being held at other parks in the neighborhood.
Although it will be a lengthy process, Brouder said the park’s redesign is “long overdue.”
Brassil is not the only park being renovated: By March 2024, the City is expected to have completed renovations of 39 parks and greenspaces across every neighborhood in Providence, according to Estrella. Other parks are slated for construction in 2024, including India Point Park and the Paterson Park playground.
“Brassil Memorial Park is an important gathering space for our community, particularly for youth in this neighborhood and some of the amenities have not been updated in decades,” Estrella wrote.
“We’re pretty excited by the fact that (Brassil) is going to be new,” Brouder said. “This is a precious park that we really love.”
FASRI students aren’t the only ones with a connection to the park — Brown students have made use of the park’s jungle gyms and play structures too. Cottrell van Wingerden ’24 had used the former “squiggly structure” for a 10-person game he and his friends called “bone breaker.”
“The goal is to get your five players to the other side of the structure without anyone falling off before the other team,” van Wingerden told The Herald. “It’s quite a physical game.”
The game originated during van Wingerden’s first year at Brown, during the summer semester with no clubs and “too much time on our hands,” he said. Van Wingerden and his friends would play at night, each player in a designated position that drew inspiration from the “Harry Potter” sport of Quidditch.
Van Wingerden said the group always planned to play one more time during senior year, so it was “too bad” when he walked past the park one morning to see it had been torn down.
“It was a nice playground before but it wasn’t the most advanced, so it will be cool to see what they do with it,” van Wingerden said. “I would love it if they put another version of that structure back in there.”
Haley Sandlow is a section editor covering science and research as well as admissions and financial aid. She is a junior from Chicago, Illinois, studying English and French.