Within the borders of Willowtown is a city park–the Palmetto Playground in the southwest corner where Columbia Place meets State Street. The Willowtown Association oversees the section of the park devoted to a community garden, naming it for the late gardener Mitchell “Mickel” Minawar. He died unexpectedly in 2007.
The site of the park was once filled with houses that were demolished for construction of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway in phases during 1937-64. The park built in a cleared corner beside the BQE opened in 1947 as the Atlantic Playground.
Pushed by the Willowtown Association, a redesign of the park was carried out in the late 1990s. This work saw new landscaping and equipment, improved basketball courts, a dog run and the community garden having a small greenhouse. At the dedication ceremony then Parks Commissioner Henry Stern announced the new name Palmetto Playground. The palmetto, he explained, is the official tree of a “State” that borders on the “Atlantic” whose capital is “Columbia”–the names of the three bordering streets. The commissioner considered this to be among the most ingenious of park names that he chose.