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'Elaborate' Spray Shower to Replace Mini-Pool in Astoria Heights Playground

 The change is planned as part of a $3 million overhaul of the Astoria Heights Playground.
Renovation Plans for Astoria Heights Playground
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ASTORIA — The Parks Department plans to replace the children's swimming pool at Astoria Heights Playground with an "elaborate" spray shower, part of a more than $3 million overhaul proposed for the park in the coming years.

Officials want to take down the playground's 20-by-40 foot mini-pool, which is designed for children and is 3 feet deep, to build a large sprinkler area with more than 20 water jets, according to the plans.

The change is part of a renovation of the playground that's expected to start next year under the city's new Community Parks Initiative, which will also include new play equipment and a multi-purpose sports field.

Some parents said they'd be glad to get a new water sprinkler area instead of the mini-pool, which they complained is prone to long lines and murky water.

"The water every year is very dirty," said Milena Diz, mother of a 3-year-old and an infant. "It gets too crowded."

She also said the fenced-in pool blocks views of certain parts of the park, making it hard to keep an eye on kids if they run behind it.

But other residents said they want the pool to stay.

"We bring her to the pool, so of course we would like to have the pool," said dad Saswat Pattanayak, who said he often brings his 5-year-old daughter to swim at the park in the summer.

The Parks Department said it came up with its plans for the park's redesign based on input from the community, including a public meeting last fall and a survey that got more than 100 responses.

A Parks spokeswoman said removing the pool will free up more space in the park for other upgrades, including a larger playground and a new seating area with trees.

"As an alternative to the pool, the new spray showers are ADA accessible, conserve water, and can operate for an extended season and longer hours during the day," she added.

The design plans for the playground, at 45th Street and 30th Road, still need to be approved by the city's Public Design Commission, which is expected to review them later this month. Construction will begin in fall of 2016 and is expected to take about a year, according to the Parks Department.

Parents have been pushing for improvements at the green space because of outdated equipment and cracked asphalt.

In addition to the new spray area, the project calls for new playground equipment with separate sections for toddlers and older kids, as well as a sports field with space for tennis courts, baseball, a running track and fitness equipment for adults.

The upgrades will cost $3.29 million, more than $1 million of which comes from Mayor Bill de Blasio's Community Parks Initiative, which funds improvements for under-resourced public parks.

Additional funding will come from City Councilman Costa Constantinides and Queens Borough President Melinda Katz.