Kids Used in Sandy Recovery Event Still Await Storm Damaged Playground Fix
MIDLAND BEACH — Flanked by kids from P.S. 38 , Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver touted recovery from Hurricane Sandy as he officially opened Staten Island beaches this week — and announced a new amusement park for the borough.
But the invited guests from the Midland Beach school were left to wonder when that recovery would reach them.
Their neighborhood playground next to the school was devastated when the storm hit in October 2012. It's still closed awaiting repair.
"What about us?" said Lisa Schnell, who attended the ceremony on Tuesday with her first grader. "We haven't had this park in forever."
Winds from Sandy ripped up the safety surface at the Midland Playground, directly adjacent to P.S. 38 at 421 Lincoln Ave. Work is planned to start this summer, a spokeswoman for the Parks Department said.
While parents like Schnell have written letters, called politicians and begged the city to reopen the park, it only installed fences to make it harder for kids who want to play to get in, Schnell said.
"This community lost a lot in the storm," said Schnell, 42, a lifelong Midland Beach resident. "The park, for me, is my sanity. We don't even get that. They have nowhere else to go."
Repairs were delayed because the Parks Department had trouble finding a contractor to agree to start work on it, said spokeswoman Tara Kiernan.
"Over the past year we issued multiple Requests for Bids (RFB) to make repairs at this location, but received none," she said.
Kiernan said the department added the work into another capital project that is in the award phase, and hopes to be able to start reconstruction in the summer. Workers need to repair the safety surface and repave the area before its good to open again, Kiernan said.
But parents at the school said delays were upsetting for neighborhood children, like Christine Rosario's 6-year-old daughter who asks to visit it almost daily.
"They looked forward to going in there when they got out [of school]," Rosario said. "When she finishes homework she wants to go. Every day when we pass it [she asks to go]."
Schnell said another summer without the park will be a big loss for the neighborhood.
"This park was used by a lot of the community," she said. "It's a shame, [my son] cries everyday, he wants to go to the park."