Efforts to place a playground in the South End have been blocked by the City Council.

Plans to install the park on a patch of vacant land next to the old South Junior High School have been growing since last summer and were endorsed by both Mayor Paul Dyster’s administration and the Niagara Falls School District, which owns the property. However, with only Charles Walker voting in favor, the council denied the agreement during its meeting Monday night.

Councilman Robert Anderson said he was against the project because there’s already more than 20 parks and playgrounds throughout the city that aren’t properly maintained.

“What we have right now are deplorable,” he said. “Instead of spending money on a new park, we should use it to fix up what we have first.”

The final vote had Anderson joined by Councilman Steve Fournier in voting no against Walker. Councilmembers Chris Robins and Samuel Fruscione both abstained from voting because they’re employees of the school district. A resolution needs three votes to pass.

Reached after the meeting, Dyster said he was perplexed by the council action.

“It’s going to be very, very disappointing to all of the people who have worked hard to give the kids in that neighborhood a park,” he said.

Creating a park in the South End was among Dyster’s campaign promises while running for mayor in 2007. The neighborhood had been without a safe site to play since the removal of the 13th Street gym and 10th Street Park, which were sold by the city to Niagara Falls Redevelopment.

Working in cooperation with area block clubs and members of the Niagara Organizing Alliance for Hope, Dyster’s administration selected the site next to the shuttered South Junior school and formed an agreement with the school district to use the land at no cost. A press conference announcing the project was first held last August.

“This is not the first time it was discussed,” Dyster said about Monday’s resolution that would’ve finalized the agreement.

He pointed out the playground equipment has already been ordered using community development money and the city was planning on beginning landscaping work at the site. The equipment is similar to what’s being used at the Nor-Loc Park, which mostly caters to children under 12.

“We need to try and find out what the situation is now,” Dyster said. “We think it’s a good site that services the population.”

A neighborhood resident spoke at Monday’s meeting and said some are concerned the new playground has been poorly planned out and not enough information has been made public, including the designs and issues over security.

Fournier said he was voting against the resolution in response to those concerns.

Afterward, Robins said the council isn’t opposed to a playground being placed in the neighborhood but didn’t feel the site next to South Junior was ideal because there’s an outside proposal being considered to purchase the old school building from the district and turn it into market-rate lofts.

In related action Monday, the council agreed to sponsor an application for the Restore New York grant program to help developer Murray Gould and architect Clinton Brown purchase the school and complete their project. Robins and Fruscione also abstained from that vote.

Gould and Brown, who have said a playground would not change their interest in the site, are requesting $5 million from Restore New York. The city will cover their 10 percent application fee and is also submitting grant requests for asbestos removal and rehabilitation work at the old Public Safety Building on Hyde Park Boulevard and the long-vacant 39th Street school.