Anthony Liberatoscioli, a parent of a 5-year-old and the creator of the Change.org petition, said that he and his daughter frequent the park so much that it doubles as his daughter’s backyard. Reopening the bathrooms is “of critical importance,” he said.
The Charybdis Playground bathrooms were closed last summer because of plumbing issues, and many parents have used the petition to recount the struggles they have experienced as a result of this closure.
“We use this park on a daily basis with our kids about 75 percent of the year and with little children, they can’t hold their pee or poop,” one parent wrote on the petition. “If they need to go, it’s either they leave the park and are done for the day because it’s a long walk home, or they pee on a tree.”
According to Parks Department spokesperson Meghan Lalor, the repairs will not be completed until at least spring 2019. In the meantime, portable toilets will be set up from spring to fall while a new sewer line is installed.
“This is complicated work and will involve installing a new sewer line for the comfort station and pool snack bar concession,” Lalor said. “We apologize for any inconvenience during this important work.”
The closest bathrooms are near the Astoria Park tennis courts, which are located a 10-minute walk away on 21st Street and Hoyt Avenue.
Richard Khuzami, the chair of the parks and recreation committee for Community Board 1, said at a recent CB 1 meeting that he has shared the petition with members of the Old Astoria Neighborhood Association.
Joseph Risi, chair of CB 1, added that the board fully supports the petition and will do what they can to help.
The petition has collected 452 signatures and countless comments as of Wednesday afternoon. The Astoria Park Alliance ― Liberatoscioli is a board member ― will meet with Parks Department Queens Borough Commissioner Dorothy Lewandowski at 7 p.m. on Feb. 2 at Bohemian Hall to discuss the bathroom repairs and other park updates.
“With the start of the 2016 park-going seasons just a few months away, we are looking at the prospect of a second full year without clean, safe and operational permanent bathrooms in the playground,” Liberatoscioli wrote in the petition. “Now is the time to address this issue and make the re-opening of the restrooms the priority that it should be.”