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Photos: QNS/Anthony Giudice
Photos: QNS/Anthony Giudice

Gray skies couldn’t dampen the celebration in Woodhaven on Friday, June 3, as elected officials, members of the NY Parks Department, students and residents gathered for a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new-and-improved Mary Whalen Playground.

The playground was renovated after Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley secured $1.1 million in funding, with an additional $339,000 in funds from Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office.

Mary Whalen Playground hadn’t received significant improvements in a quarter century. Previously, the playground had major infrastructure problems. All of the play equipment was outdated, the safety surface was deteriorated and the perimeter walls were in bad condition.

In less than a year’s time, the playground is now completely renovated. The preschool and pre-teen play areas have brand-new play equipment; engineers added 250 percent more greenery to the playground; and a newly-repaired drainage system was installed.

“We are very excited to have this restored and this beautiful playground right here in Forest Park,” City Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver said. “You’ll notice that the preschool and the pre-teen play areas, and the spray shower, have been completely renovated. We always like to plan for multi-generational spaces so children of all ages can enjoy our outdoor play areas. Also a priority for us was replacing the old play structures with newer, safer and more modern engaging equipment for our children.”

Another main aspect to the playground’s reconstruction is the newly installed American with Disabilities Act (ADA) accessible entrance on the park’s western end.

Mary Whalen Playground was originally built in the 1940s and later named after Mary Whalen, a local Woodhaven resident who had a strong sense of civic duty for her neighborhood. Whalen was the founder and first president of the Greater Woodhaven Development Corporation, the vice president of Community Board 9 and a one-time president of the Woodhaven Block Association.

“We owed it to Mary Whalen and her memory as a woman who was so dedicated to Woodhaven,” Crowley said. “I know as somebody who once had young children, it is important to give them the space they need to run around.”

“It was great to rededicate the Mary Whalen play ground in Forest Park,” said Assemblyman Mike Miller, who was on hand for the ribbon-cutting. “You could tell that this was a great success by the laughter of the children playing in the background during the ribbon-cutting ceremony. I am confident the work done to this park will fully benefit future generations to enjoy.”

As the elected officials and members of the Parks Department gave their speeches, students from P.S. 88 were running around and enjoying all of the new equipment at Mary Whalen Playground.

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