By Bill Parry
The city Park’s Department broke ground on a full reconstruction of Veterans Grove Playground in Elmhurst Monday.
The $1.7 million project will upgrade the play area and surrounding the sidewalk with the City Council providing $1.5 million in funding with an additional $175,000 from Borough President Melinda Katz.
Existing benches, fencing, play equipment and pavements will all be removed and replaced with updated amenities. In addition to play spaces for children, Veterans Grove Playground will include a spray shower area for use during the summer months and quiet sitting areas. The park’s dog run will also get improvements, including a new drinking fountain.
Five parks and playgrounds will be improved or renovated in Elmhurst, including Crowley Playground, Hoffman Park, CC Moore Playground and Newtown Playground. City Councilman Daniel Dromm (D-Jackson Heights) has allocated $5 million for the projects.
“Improving parks and playgrounds in Elmhurst is a top priority of mine,” Dromm said. “Quality greenspace is essential to the health and well-being of any community.”
Work began at Veterans Grove Playground in the spring and is expected to take two years to complete. The triangular park, just north of the Long Island Rail Road between Whitney Avenue and 43rd Avenue, will also get important storm water management infrastructure.
Parks will install a number of underground chambers and pipes, which will help manage storm water runoff by capturing the rain water, and diverting overflow from the city’s storm water system. This new infrastructure will also minimize soil runoff after rain and include plantings and land form changes, which will aid in containing storm water.
“In keeping with our mission to support a more sustainable city, we are adding infrastructure to better manage storm water overflow, minimizing erosion and easing the burdenon our citywide water system,” Queens Parks Commissioner Dorothy Lewandowski said.
The playground was dedicated to the memory of soldiers from Elmhurst who lost their lives serving in World War 1 and includes a plaque honoring those veterans. Elmhurst will also be the home of the borough’s long-awaited Queens Vietnam Veterans Memorial at Elmhurst Park on 79th Street between Grand Avenue and 57th Avenue.
The 6.22-acre park replaced the iconic Elmhurst gas tanks, which were removed in 2001. There is no timetable set for when the memorial will be constructed.
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr