BY YVETTE BNROWN
On Tuesday, New York City Parks Department Commissioner Dorothy Lewandowski cut the ribbon, officially opening the new and improved Paul Raimonda Playground. She was joined by Councilman Costa Constantinides (D-Astoria), Community Board 1 District Manager Florence Koulouris and Parks Chair Richard Khuzami.
The Parks Department announced the nearly $2 million renovation of the park, located on 47th Street and 20th Avenue, in 2013 and broke ground on the renovations in August of last year. The revamp included replacing an under-utilized bocce court with adult fitness equipment and fixing drainage problems.
Reconstruction was funded by City Council for $800 and Mayor Bill de Blasio for $920. This marks the first improvements made to the playground since 1995.
Paul Raimonda Playground is named after the late community activist and founder of the Astoria Heights Homeowners and Tenants Association. It’s also located a few blocks away from the Steinway and Sons factory – the firm of piano manufacturers founded in 1853 by Henry Steinweg, which is what inspired the new piano-shaped spray shower area as part of a new play area in the park.
“After a major tune-up at Paul Raimonda Playground, kids will be able to splash around this summer in a brand new piano-shaped spray shower that challenges their imaginations and pays homage to the neighborhood’s roots,” said Lewandowski. “Adults can enjoy brand new fitness equipment, and take a break in the relocated sitting area with new plantings and benches. We are extremely grateful to the City Council and Mayor de Blasio for providing key support to transform this important community space.”
The flag pole was also repaired, the play equipment was also replaced and the park’s seating area was relocated as requested by the community. The asphalt in the playground was repaved for better drainage.
According to the Parks Department, many of the existing trees, currently in cobblestone tree pits, have been surrounded by plant beds containing flowering trees, evergreen and deciduous shrubs, and perennials. A variety of plants will be selected to provide color and interest from spring to fall.
“When you improve a park, you improve a neighborhood. The improvements at Raimonda Playground will bring benefits to families throughout the entire neighborhood. The additional fitness equipment will be accessible to all and will be a better use of space,” said Constantinides. “The brand new spray shower in the shape of a baby grand piano will serve as a centerpiece for the playground and honor the Steinway-Astoria neighborhood’s namesake. I look forward to seeing children enjoy the new upgrades for many summers to come and thank NYC Parks for their partnership in bringing this improvement to fruition.”
Reach Yvette Brown at (718)357-7400 ext. 128, firstname.lastname@example.org or @eveywrites.