By Bill Parry
The Astoria Heights Playground will be closed for a year as it undergoes a nearly $6 million reconstruction, its first major renovation in 20 years.
Electeds and community leaders joined city Parks Department officials for a ceremonial groundbreaking last week at the park, located on 30th Road between 45th and 46th streets.
“Breaking ground to fully transform Astoria Heights Playground represents the mayor’s vision for a more equitable park system being realized,” Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver said. “I’m thrilled to be here to advance this project into construction, so Astorians can enjoy enhanced play and a greener park, right in their own backyard.”
The project was funded with $2.2 million from Mayor Bill de Blasio through the Community Parks initiative and Parks Without Borders programs, $1.5 million from the Department of Environmental Protection, part of its larger commitment to the initiative, $1.1 million from city Councilman Costa Constantinides (D-Astoria), and $1 million from Borough President Melinda Katz.
“Improvements to our parks bring vital improvements to our neighborhoods,” Constantinides said. “The new play equipment, spray shower, and ball playing area will help Astoria Heights Playground better serve the surrounding community. The playground will continue to provide integral greenspace for families in western Queens to enjoy.”
The design for the project was based on feedback gathered directly from community members, as well as administration and students from IS 10, at public visioning sessions. City Parks landscape architects also took into account data received from more than 100 residents who responded to surveys conducted by the Friends of Astoria Park.
“Our community worked hard to make Astoria Heights Playground a safer and more enjoyable family-friendly space beloved by all Astorians,” state Sen. Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria) said. “I am excited to welcome these new upgrades to our neighborhood and provide recreational opportunities for our youngest residents.”
The renovation will include new play equipment for kids up to age 15, new pavement, a new lawn and picnic tables along 46th Street, new trees and a reconstructed bathroom. The playground’s mini-pool will be removed, and replaced with a spray shower featuring 10 in-ground spray jets and five upright spray features, which will be more accessible to people of all abilities and can be used for a longer season than the mini-pool.
“Every New Yorker should have access to adequate park space and recreational opportunities for their families,” U.S. Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-Jackson Heights) said. “The renovation of Astoria Heights Playground is welcome news for a community that long pushed to see improvements at the heavily used playground and I’m thrilled that work is now officially underway.”
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr