By Gabriel Rom
Long-awaited upgrades to the Mary Whalen Playground in Woodhaven are set to begin Aug. 18 at a ground-breaking ceremony led by Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Glendale).
The $1.3 million project, which is part of a larger $7.7 million renovation plan for Forest Park, secured its first round of funding in March 2013. The plan is spearheaded by Crowley, who pledged $1 million of City Council funding, while the mayor’s office covered the remaining $300,000.
The planned renovations will completely overhaul the hillside playground, named for the late Woodhaven civic leader, on Park Lane South and 79th Street.
“Forest Park truly is one of Queens’ greatest parks. That is why I am so pleased to have allocated funding for the renovation of Mary Whalen Playground. For the first time in over 20 years, these much-needed upgrades will breathe new life into this section of the park to be enjoyed for generations to come,” Crowley said in a statement.
The park has suffered from poor conditions for years and was last repaired in 1991.
“The one word we keep hearing in reference to the park is ‘underutilized’ and I think that’s because of its condition. It really does need the work, so we’re excited. It’s going to be a totally different, beautiful new park,” said Ed Wendell, Director on the Board of Directors at the Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association.
The new design, which will completely overhaul the layout of the playground, will divide much of the playground into multiple sections geared to different age groups. Toddlers and pre-teens will have new play areas, while a section in the back of the playground will be designated for teenagers.
Other upgrades include new play equipment, repairs of the drainage system, perimeter walls and curbs, a new central water feature and a secondary ramp into the park from Park Lane South that will adhere to the standards set forth by the Americans with Disabilities Act. The playground will also become much greener with added canopy trees and walking pathways.
“This is a place where your kids are going to go, so we always appreciate upgrades,” Wendell added.
The city Department expects the project to be completed by July 2016.
You can reach reporter Gabriel Rom at grom@