Playground Getting $1.6 Million Makeover After Parents Pushed for Upgrades

By Jeanmarie Evelly on July 1, 2014 8:30am 

 Astoria Heights playground was slated for $1.6M in improvements.
Astoria Heights playground was slated for $1.6M in improvements.
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DNAinfo/Jeanmarie Evelly

ASTORIA — A neighborhood playground is getting a $1.6 million upgrade — including gates, fixing cracked pavement and new age-separated play areas — after months of lobbying by parents, according to officials.

The funding for renovations at the Astoria Heights Playground — where parents complained last year of buckling asphalt, outdated equipment and a sloping wall of eroding soil that covers the park in dirt each time it rains — was approved in the recently adopted 2015 city budget.

"These are capital dollars well spent," said City Councilman Costa Constantinides, who allocated $1.1 million for the project, while an additional $500,000 came from Queens Borough President Melinda Katz.

Constantinides said the funding will go toward fixing a number of problems at the playground raised by the Friends of Astoria Heights Park, a neighborhood group that has been pushing for upgrades there.

"The friends group here has been absolutely amazing, and have raised lot of issues and have advocated on behalf of this park," the councilman said. "Anytime you see everyday citizens working towards the betterment of their community, you can't help but support it."

According to Constantinides, upgrades will include fixing cracked asphalt and buckling playground mats, addressing the erosion problem, getting new play equipment — including separate sections for toddlers and older children — and adding gates to keep kids from running into the streets.

"We have a lot of great ideas, and now we have some funding," said local dad and Friends of Astoria Heights Park member Adam Cohen.

Lynn Kennedy, who helped found the group and started an online petition last year for the upgrades, said they plan to work closely with the city throughout the design and renovation process. 

They're also planning a number of events this summer, including a safety event with the Red Cross and a puppet show.

"We're just trying to broaden the types of programming and activities that are here, so that people feel included and can take some ownership in the park," she said. "There are so many different ways that people can get involved."

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