HUNTERS POINT — They may not have a big, public swimming pool like other neighborhoods, but parents and kids in Hunters Point couldn’t be happier — a long-awaited state-of-the-art sprinkler has opened in Gantry Plaza State Park just in time for the city's fourth heat wave, complete with its own lifeguard.
“Every day we were checking through the windows if it [was] working,” said Kelly, a mother of two toddlers, who lives in one of the buildings on the Hunters Point waterfront, where the new sprinkler spurted cool bursts of water on a steamy Tuesday afternoon.
The sprinkler opened last weekend as part of a colorful playground located in the waterfront park, which also has hammocks, seats and spacious lawns.
A path made of wood planks leads to the sprinkler area and its nozzles spray water skyward for 15 minutes once children activate it by pressing the button. Kids can also regulate the water preassure.
The sprinkler operates at 45-minute intervals. "It goes on for 45 minutes and then children have to exit to encourage them to take a brake and to use the restroom," said Dan Keefe, spokeman for the state office of Parks, Recreation & Historic Preservation. He explained that "it's an environmentally sensitive system."
Even though the splash pad has no standing water, there is a lifeguard on duty.
"It's for supervision," Keefe added. He also added the lifeguard is CPR certified.
On Tuesday afternoon, the guard, who was wearing a yellow tank top, watched the children frolick in the water and told them not to run.
Malgorzata L. brought her her four sons — David, Oskar, Marcin and Lukasz — from Greenpoint to enjoy the summer fun.
“They just opened the pool in Greenpoint, but it is always crowded and it’s impossible to watch my four boys there,” she said. “This sprinkler is great. Boys can play with water. It’s beautiful and safe.”
Queens residents also welcomed the newly opened northern portion of Gantry Plaza State Park.
“It’s such a gorgeous place,” said Michelle Natividad, 37, who came to the park from Astoria with her newly wed sister and her husband to take some pictures.
“People go to Central Park, but I think this is better,” she said pointing at the Manhattan view. “It’s great for a picnic. So relaxing.”
“You see the city without being stuck in it,” said Katelyn Kalinowski, 20, who comes regularly to Long Island City to visit her sister.