Plans for promised Bellerose community reading garden move forward

Photo courtesy of Senator Liu’s office

Plans are finally moving forward for a Bellerose reading garden the city had promised the community back in 2014.

On Dec. 5, elected officials, the Parks Department, P.S. 133 leadership and community and civic leaders announced the next steps for the Bellerose Community Reading Garden project that will lie adjacent to the Bellerose Playground and P.S. 133 schoolyard.

The city had previously closed off the garden space where the planned reading garden will go, despite the community’s desire to transform the area. In 2014, former Senator Tony Avella secured $250,000 in funding but the project never moved forward.

Two years later, Borough President Melinda Katz and Councilman Barry Grodenchik put forth a collective $4.4 million from the city budget that went toward schoolyard and playground renovations for P.S. 133. The city moved forward with the project while plans for the reading garden fell to the wayside. Construction is currently underway and is slated to finish by spring 2020.

“This reading garden has been long sought after by the community, and in fact should have been part of a comprehensive renovation of the P.S. 133 recreation area,” said Senator John Liu. “However, lack of collaboration in past years had resulted in this component of the overall renovation being excluded. We have worked together with the parks department, elected officials and community activists for the last several months to put this project on a clear path forward for completion. The next step is a public scoping meeting, which is important so that community input can be incorporated, and I hope anyone interested will come share their ideas and suggestions.”

P.S. 133 will host a public scoping meeting on Friday, Jan. 10, at 3 p.m. At the meeting, the community can weigh in on design elements and things they would like to see put in the reading garden.

Prior to this project, parents and community members had advocated for a decade for the city to make better use of the garden space. Supporters thought that a reading garden would get students “more involved in their community” and provide a serene environment for reading.

“The P.S. 133Q schoolyard and Bellerose playground are almost complete, and the reading garden is the final puzzle piece at that site,” said Councilman Barry Grodenchik.

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