Officials cut ribbon at Astoria’s Chappetto Square following $4.5 million reconstruction project

Officials cut the ribbon at Astoria's Chappetto Park following a $4.5 million reconstruction project. (Courtesy NYC Parks/Daniel Avila)

Chappetto Square at the base of the Triborough Bridge in Astoria has undergone a $4.5 million extreme makeover under the city’s first-ever parks equity initiative. The NYC Parks program began in 2014 to invest in smaller parks in densely populated and growing neighborhoods.

In one of his final acts as a city councilman before stepping down to take a job in the private sector, Costa Constantinides hailed the program for improving a public space in Astoria, an issue he made a priority since taking office in 2013.

“Chappetto Square has long been a popular but underfunded space, but now we have a park worthy of the diverse community that uses it,” Constantinides said. “As the weather warms and people seek safe activities and recreation, beautiful spaces like reimagined Chappetto Square are vital.”

The timing of the ribbon-cutting ceremony at Chappetto Square coincides with springtime as residents emerge from a tough COVID winter.

“The reconstruction of Chappetto Square has transformed this space into a first-class neighborhood park that will serve the entire Astoria community,” Queens Borough President Donovan Richards said. “With the COVID-19 pandemic hopefully in our rearview mirror, folks are beginning to rediscover their communities, and there is no better place for Astoria residents to start their rediscovery than by visiting this wonderful gem of a park. Peter Chappetto, the fallen World War II service member for whom Chappetto Square is named, would be proud to know that his old neighborhood has such a fine park.”

Photo via Twitter/Meghan Lalor/@MegaLalor

When Robert Moses took control of the Triborough Bridge Authority in 1934, he had envisioned a series of parks with play facilities and landscaping surrounding the bridge approaches and Chappetto Square is just one of seven that constituted the Triborough Bridge Playgrounds. The remaining six parks and playgrounds on Hoyt Avenue North and Hoyt Avenue South, between 21st and 26th streets, continue to be known as the Triborough Bridge Playgrounds.

The reconstruction of Chappetto Square features four new seal-coated ecua-volley courts, drinking fountains, asphalt pathways and enhanced landscaping. The new and improved public space supports both passive and active recreation with the installation of new shaded seating areas, game tables and pedestrian lighting.

“With these new upgrades, Chappetto Square is now better equipped to meet Astoria’s recreational needs,” NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver said. “I’m thrilled to unveil these new amenities that will serve the children, families and residents of the surrounding communities for years to come.”

The officials also unveiled the design for a $4.6 million renovation of Gorman Playground in East Elmhurst with the goal to reconstruct the children’s play area with swings, a spray shower, game tables and benches. New asphalt pathways and plantings will be installed to enhance the playground’s landscape.

“Poor planning in the past limited Jackson Heights and East Elmhurst park space, so caring for the parks and playgrounds we have there is critical,” Constantinides said. “That’s why I’m so excited that we’ve been able to provide the community with this design for a beautiful new playground that was crafted in partnership with the neighborhood.”

Constantinides allocated the $4.6 million in funding for the project which is anticipated to begin in the fall. Before his death in 1963, civic leader Denis Gorman devoted his time to providing recreational facilities for the youth of Queens as chairman of the Youth Activities Committee which built 20 Little League baseball fields in just five months.

“The creative design unveiled today for Gorman Playground could not have been developed without the extensive and valuable input of residents of the surrounding community,” Richards said. “Thanks to their valuable ideas and feedback, their kids will soon be able to enjoy a playground that has been transformed into a top-quality recreation space that will delight East Elmhurst’s children for decades to come.”

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