By Bill Parry
After receiving increased complaints from constituents in recent weeks about broken beer bottles, drug paraphernalia and used condoms found each morning at an Astoria playground, City Councilman Costa Constantinides (D-Astoria) is planning to draft legislation that would require the Parks Department to secure playgrounds at night.
He said the issue of illegal and inappropriate activities is an ongoing problem at Sean’s Place, a gated playground on 38th Street between Broadway and 31st Street.
“It is a consistent problem at night with young adults entering the playground after hours,” Constantinides said. “Playgrounds are for children and parents have the right to know their children can play safely each morning. It’s simply not feasible to expect the Park Department to get out there and clean it each morning before 8 a.m. The 114th Precinct has been trying to do patrols more often but you can’t expect patrols at each park for 12 hours every night.”
The solution, he believes, is to have the department’s Park Enforcement Officers lock the gate to the playground each night at 9 p.m.
“It’s a whole lot harder to climb a fence than it is to walk through an open front door,” Constantinides said. “You can’t climb a pointed fence while holding a beer. It’s not just for Sean’s Place but every children’s playground citywide as a matter of policy.”
He hopes to introduce the bill in the near future and stressed that it is only aimed at children’s playgrounds and not parks.
Meanwhile, City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) joined Queens Parks Commissioner Dorothy Lewandowski Tuesday to announce $4.5 million in capital funding to upgrade Dutch Kills Playground located at 36th Avenue between Crescent and 28th streets. The space is adjacent to PS 112 and used by students of IS 204 and the Baccalaureate School as well.
“This park is a hub of the Dutch Kills community,” Van Bramer said. “Our children come to this playground every day, and they deserve a modern, up-to-date park to use during recess, gym class, and with their families and neighbors on the weekends. Our parks and public spaces are an integral part of the fabric of our communities.”
The park’s first renovation in 20 years will include a reconstruction of the playground and comfort station. The infusion of funding will make the community hub a more modern and inviting public space, Van Bramer said.
“Dutch Kills Playground is a popular recreation space for students and families alike,” Queens Borough Parks Commissioner Dorothy Lewandowski said. “We look forward to hosting a community visioning session next week, where participants will be able to re-imagine this neighborhood amenity and provide input on the upcoming renovations.”
The meeting to gather ideas on the park’s redesign will take place Monday night at PS 112 beginning at 6 p.m. The school is located at 25-05 37th Ave.
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr