By Mark Hallum
City officials cut the ribbon on a playground in Astoria last week after dropping $8 million in city funds to bring the greenspace up to modern standards.
Astoria Heights Playground can now be called an eco-friendly park with the city Dept. of Environmental Protection helping with the redesign that will capture stormwater runoff to prevent the overflow of the sewer systems in the surrounding area and mitigate flooding.
“Astoria Heights Park has been a haven in our community, which is why it was important that it endeavor as a 21st century open space,” City Councilman Costa Constantinides (D-Astoria) said July 20. “I am proud to have allocated $1.1 million to help Astoria Heights Park become on par with other city green spaces. This partnership with our mayor and Queens Borough President Melinda Katz ensures that for generations to come Astoria families can now enjoy its sports courts, play equipment, picnic tables, and spray shower without having to venture too far.”
New York City currently has one of the most expansive green infrastructure initiatives in the country with the city launching the construction of hundreds of bioswales throughout northeast Queens in 2016 to prevent further pollution of Flushing Bay.
“Thanks to the capital investment of public dollars, the children and families of Astoria can enjoy the long-anticipated upgrades to Astoria Heights Playground,” Katz said. “The new playground is for the community, by the community, thanks to substantial input on the design from community members and students through the Community Parks Initiative.”
Play equipment in the playground will accommodate children up to 15 and a spray shower area will shoot water out of the ground from 10 in-ground jets and five upright spray nozzles.
“We have committed more than $50 million to this initiative to install new green infrastructure that will help to both capture stormwater and beautify communities,” DEP Commissioner Vincent Sapienza said.
A walkway surrounds a tennis and volleyball athletic field and the park is now handicap-accessible, according to Parks.
“Astoria Heights Playground, like all of the Community Parks Initiative sites, was long overdue for an update, so we’re grateful to be able to give this space the attention it deserves,” Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver said.
The renovation was completed under the mayor’s Community Parks Initiative, which puts emphasis on upgrading smaller parks throughout the city.
Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhall