Three Jackson Heights streets will be among the first in the city to be dubbed “Play Streets,” a new car-free street initiative designed to provide open space for children to play outdoors to prevent the spread of COVID-19 beginning on July 30, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Friday.
All three Play Streets in Queens will be open to children to participate in independent arts and crafts projects, giant board games and games of basketball, frisbee, Wiffle ball, kickball and laser tag. Reading corners, dance classes and yoga will also be available.
The program supplements the Open Streets and Open Restaurants programs created this summer to provide space for people to safety social distance and help prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.
The three Play Street locations in Jackson Heights will all be on 34th Avenue, a street that’s currently being utilized for the Open Streets program. Kids will be free to play on 34th Avenue from 72nd Street to 74th Street, 79th Street to 80th Street and from 92nd Street to 94th Street from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m., on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. The program will run until Sep. 4.
In addition to the sporting and craft equipment, nonprofit Street Lab will provide 160 benches to Play Streets locations throughout the city.
While the mayor plans to add more throughout the summer, there are 12 Play Streets slated to open at the end of the month – four will be in Brooklyn, two in the Bronx, two in Manhattan, three in Queens and one in Staten Island.
“Young people deserve the chance to play freely in their neighborhoods while staying safe from COVID-19, and Play Streets will go a long way toward easing the burden of a summer unlike any other,” de Blasio said. “Rebuilding a fairer and better city means using our urban landscape creatively, and I’m proud to build on the success of our Open Streets program by finding exciting and productive uses for city streets.”
In addition to the three Play Streets, four new stretches of Open Streets will come to the borough, the mayor announced.
In Long Island City, Dutch Kills Street from Jackson Avenue to Thomas Avenue will be closed to traffic and open to pedestrians and cyclists.
In Astoria, 31st Avenue from 31st Street to 36th Street will be added to the Open Streets program, as well as 47th Street from 39th Avenue to Skillman Avenue and 49th Street from 39th Avenue to Skillman Avenue in Jackson Heights.
While the borough is gaining three-quarters-of-a-mile of car-free streets, it will also be losing three Open Street locations.
Long Island City’s Center Boulevard and 43rd Avenue locations and East Elmhurst’s 85th Avenue location will reopen to normal traffic.