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Astoria and Long Island City Playgrounds Offer Kids Fall Fun

By Ewa Kern-Jedrychowska | September 14, 2012 1:04pm

QUEENS — With kids starting the new school year, parents searching for fun afterschool and weekend options for their tots have to look no further than the playgrounds of Astoria and Long Island City.

“There are plenty of playgrounds in the area,” said Michelle Leach, 34, a mother of 1-year-old son, Peyton. “Some are really great and keep children very busy.”

Her favorite is Andrews Grove Playground on 49th Avenue in Hunters Point, which is packed with fun equipment and trees for shade.

“It has shade, and you don’t have to worry about the sun,” she said. “It also a lot of playground equipment so there are a lot of things to do.”

DNAinfo.com New York has scoured the neighborhood's playgrounds to see how they compare, so that residents can find the playgrounds best suited for their children.

Gantry Plaza State Park, 47th Road and the East River waterfront, Hunters Point

Pros: The playground, which opened two years ago, is colorful and modern in its design. The flooring, covering the entire playground, is extremely soft which is great for small children. Kids like colorful slides and climbing structures, parents say. "It has a great view of the Manhattan skyline and gets a nice breeze off the river," said Emine Ortega, 37, who goes there with her two sons. "There is also a little shack which sells snacks in the summertime," she added. A modern sprinkler has just opened this summer next to the playground.

Cons: The playground is not shaded and gets really hot in the sun.
Andrews Grove Playground, 49th Avenue between Vernon Boulevard and 5th Street, Hunters Point
Pros: The playground has two play areas for children that are equipped with climbing structures and slides. It also has swings, seating areas with benches and game tables, and well-defined walkways. It's a shady refuge thanks to many trees and shrubs and is very clean and well kept, parents say. It also has sprinklers for when it gets hot in the summertime.

Cons: It sometimes gets crowded in the afternoon.
Old Hickory Park, Jackson Avenue and 51st Avenue near Vernon Boulevard, Hunters Point
Pros: It has slides and a playground train just perfect for tiny locomotive fanatics. “It’s great for little kids,” said Carol Dudek, who visits the playground with her two grandsons, Mateo, 3, and Luc, 17 months. “Mateo just loves it and keeps singing 'Choo choo train,' ” she said. The playground space also has game tables and benches.

Cons: It’s right next to the Queens-Midtown Tunnel. There are no swings and no sprinklers.

Murray Playground, 45th Road or 45th Avenue between 21st and 11th Streets, Hunters Point
Pros: The park has basketball and handball courts, a baseball field, game tables, and in the very center, a playground with giant spiderweb-like climbing structure, swingsets, seesaws and a children's jungle gym, as well as sitting areas. It also has very modern leaf-shaped sprinklers for warmer weather.
Cons: It's located within a public park, where homeless people sleep and some parkgoers use bad language.
Dutch Kills Playground, Crescent Street and 36th Street, Astoria
Pros: The playground has facilities for all age groups. One area, intended for toddlers, has seesaws, kiddie-sized swings and slides, as well as a comfort station. It also has shuffleboard, basketball courts and a softball diamond. The center of the playground has climbing structures, large swings, slides, handball courts and a sitting area. There is also a drinking fountain and sprinklers. The playground has many trees which provide shade.

Cons: Parents of small children are not happy that the playground is adjacent to P.S. 112 and I.S. 204. “A lot of older kids come and hang out here,” said Joanna Kowalski who comes to the playground with her 3-year old daughter Samantha. “Sometimes they use bad words that younger children repeat later.” Parents also say the playground becomes crowded before lunchtime and after school.
Spirit Playground, 36th Avenue between 9th and 10th Streets, Astoria

Pros: The playground includes slides, a drinking fountain and a comfort station. It also has basketball courts, an open play area, a jungle gym, swings and two slides. There is a water fountain and a frog-shaped sprinkler. It also has benches, and lots of trees which provide shade. There is also a rock that children like to climb on.

Cons: Parents say the playground, which is adjacent to P.S. 76, becomes crowded in the afternoon at times.

Queensview Playground, Crescent Street between 34th Avenue and 33rd Road, Astoria
Pros: The playground has slides, climbing equipment; swings for tots and older children, a turtle play sculpture, and a sitting area. “It’s quiet and far from the street,” said Asia Galej, 30, who comes here with her 13-month old son, Stefan. “People also bring toys and leave them for everybody to use.” The best point of entrance is from 33rd Road.

Cons: There is not much shade and there are no sprinklers. The playground, which is private, is meant for local residents only but many parents who don’t live in the surrounding buildings also go there.

North Queensview Playground, 21st Street between 33 Rd and 34th Avenue, Astoria

Pros: It’s a quiet playground located between tall buildings, far from the street and is great for small children, parents say. The exit is gated and kids are not able to leave by themselves. The playground has kindergarten swings and slides as well as tunnels. It’s clean and well-kept.

Cons: Because the playground is meant for smaller children, there are not many options for older children. Also, it's a private space that's reserved for residents of the North Queensview co-op and their guests.

Astoria Heights Playground, 30th Road between 45th and 46th Streets, Astoria

Pros: The playground has a massive selection of climbing structures and slides for kids of all sizes. It also has swings, sitting areas with benches, and a comfort station. Trees make this a shady haven on warm days, and the playground also has sprinklers for heat relief during the summer. The park features a 40-foot long mini-pool, which is a handy 3-feet deep for non-swimmers.
Cons: Parents complain the playground is often dirty. Adjacent to I.S. 10, it's also a hangout for many teenagers in the afternoon, parents say.

“It’s a playground for small kids,” says Liliana, who babysits 5-year-old Antonia. “When teenagers come, they hang out and smoke here, which is not a good example for small children.”
Athens Square, 30th Avenue and 30th Street, Astoria

Pros: The park, which is sometimes called “a little bit of Athens in Astoria,” has two playground areas. The square has many trees and plantings, some benches and tables and a basketball court. It also features a basketball-volleyball court, sandbox, climbing equipment, tire swings, regular swings for tots and older kids, game and picnic tables, water fountains, sprinklers and a comfort station.

“Not too many playgrounds have sandboxes, and children really like it,” said Anna Obiaya, who comes here with her 5-year old son Jayden. “It’s also nice that there are two separate playgrounds, one for smaller kids, and the other one for older children.”
Cons: Sometimes it gets crowded, especially in the afternoons, parents say.

Playground Thirty Five XXXV, Steinway Street and 35th Avenue, Astoria

Pros: The playground has a jungle gym, swings for small children and a life-size polar bear figure. Trees provide shade and the playground is nice and clean, parents said.

Cons: Parents say that the playground can get dark in the afternoon because of a lack of lights.

Hoyt Playground, Hoyt Avenue and 31st Street, Astoria

Pros: The playground is equipped with several basketball and handball courts, a soccer field, two jungle gyms, slides, swings for tots and older kids, sitting areas with benches and game tables, drinking fountains and dragon-shaped sprinklers. There is a sitting area with benches and trees that provide lots of shade.

Cons: There is no fence between the playground and soccer field and often times balls get accidentally kicked towards the area where small children play. The playground is located next to major Astoria thoroughfares.

Van Alst Playground, 21st Street and 30th Avenue, Astoria

Pros: The playground is equipped with several basketball courts, two jungle gyms, swings, sitting areas with benches and game tables. It also has a water fountain and lots of trees, which provide shade.

Cons: There are no sprinklers on the playground. Parents also say sometimes the playground is dirty and frequented by teenagers from the adjacent P.S. 171.

Woodtree Playground, 20th Avenue between 37th and 38th Streets

Pros: The playground features a basketball court, swings for tots and older children, a jungle gym, slides, a comfort station, drinking fountain and benches. It also has dolphin animal art and a sprinkler area. It’s not crowded. 

Cons: It's located in a remote part of northern Astoria.

Raimonda Playground, 20th Avenue between 47th and 48th Streets

Pros: The playground features handball and shuffleboard courts, a basketball court, a roller skating area, swings for tots and older children and a comfort station. It also has several sitting areas with benches and game tables, two jungle gyms, a water fountain, and a sprinkler system. Trees provide lots of shade.

Cons: Parents say sometimes it gets dirty and a lot of teenagers hang out there.