By Ivan Pereira
A vacant lot at a Hollis middle school that was marred by tragedy ï»¿is now the site of a state-of-the-art playground.
IS 238 opened its new play space last week and several members of school’s 1,700-student body came out to celebrate. The school, at 88-15 182nd St., did not have a proper recreation space and Eagle Park was created with the help of some nonprofit organizations to fill that void.
“Eagle Park will provide a beautiful sports area for the entire community that will inspire good health and recreation for generations to come,” the school’s principal, Joseph Gates, said.
IS 238 was also the site that experienced the first death during the swine flu crisis last year.
The million-dollar facility was funded by the Trust for Public Land, a national group that promotes land conservation and public space. Eagle Park features a turf field, a gazebo, multi-purpose courts, an outdoor classroom, a performance area and basketball courts.
“The students were yearning for a place to play during recess and the community wanted a park,” Mary Alice Lee, director of the TPL’s New York City Playgrounds Program, said in a statement.
The TPL worked with students, community members and the nonprofit group Sports and Arts in Schools Foundation to design the playground in a way that would fit the needs not only of the school, but also of the surrounding neighborhood. The playground was named after IS 238’s mascot in honor of the school’s strong academic presence.
The New York Junior Tennis League will be one of the local groups that will use the park for its games.
“It is our expectation that Eagle Park will be one of the most utilized recreational additions to ever come to the Hollis community,” Gates said.
Assistant Principal Mitchell Wiener, a longtime instructor at the middle school, became the first casualty of the disease.
Last fall, the school installed two memorials to the administrator, including a plaque and a student-drawn portrait.
Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-260-4546.