ROCKAWAY — Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the Parks Department took the wraps off the renovated Rockaway Park Monday — including a playground that was repaired after being destroyed in an act of vandalism earlier in the year.
In March, a teen allegedly used an excavator to do $100,000 in damage to the playground on Beach 29th Street, which was under construction at the time — demolishing slides and other children's equipment.
A Bronx teen, Allan Swafford, was arrested a few days later and charged with burglary, unauthorized use of a vehicle and criminal mischief and held on $150,000 for the incident, which sparked outrage in the community.
The upgraded park includes several new features: handball and basketball courts, other playgrounds, a climbing wall, a skate park, a water play area, a performance space and a comfort station.
The renovations are a part of PlaNYC, the city's long term plan to increase green spaces in the five boroughs. Other parks that are under development include the High Bridge and Fort Washington parks in Manhattan, Calvert Vaux Park in Brooklyn and Highland Park in Cypress Hills.
“Rockaway Beach has been an iconic recreational destination for more than a century,” said Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe.
“Now, thanks to Mayor Bloomberg and PlaNYC, the Far Rockaway neighborhood has new parks, playgrounds and athletic facilities that make it like a mini Jones Beach for the 21st Century.”
The park, located along a mile-long stretch from Beach 9th Street and Beach 32nd Street, was renovated at a cost of over $30 million and was built on previously undeveloped space and parking lots.