HUNTERS POINT — The running track and athletic field near Gantry Plaza State Park will open an hour earlier each morning starting next week — something local parents have been pushing for so their kids have time to exercise before school.
The Queens West Sports Field, located on Fifth Street between 47th Avenue and 46th Road, will open at 7 a.m. instead of 8 a.m. beginning on April 17, a State Parks Department spokesman said.
The move comes after a push by parents for the time change, which would allow students at P.S./I.S. 78 — located right next to the field — to use the facilities before their classes start at 8:10 a.m.
"That’s a crucial thing. They need something in the morning," said Kris Schrey, who heads the LIC Parents Group and led the push for the earlier opening. Kids use the fields for pickup soccer and baseball games, he said.
"Research study after research study has shown that kids, especially pre-teenagers, focus much better when they have an intense physical workout before they start school," Schrey explained. "It sharpens their attention."
Several parents sent letters to the State Parks Department asking for the change, as did Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan.
"From time to time State Parks has received a few special requests to adjust the normal operating schedule and when circumstances have allowed we have accommodated," Parks spokesman Randy Simons said.
"As the morning daylight hours get longer and the weather gets nicer State Parks will be opening the athletic field at Gantry Plaza State Park earlier to further accommodate our visitors wishing to start their day off in the outdoors."
Whether the earlier opening hours will remain year-round will be determined based on demand, Simons added.