BY DOMENICK RAFTER
Editor in Chief
The Parks Department unveiled their ambitious $1 million plan to renovate Bowne Playground in Flushing at Monday night’s Community Board 7 meeting, and board members had a bevy of questions about the proposal, ranging from security to safety and accessibility.
The park, which is located adjacent to PS 20 on Union Street between Barclay and Sanford avenues, is slated to be reconstructed as part of Mayor de Blasio’s $130 million Community Parks Initiative, which will renovate and reconstruct nearly three dozen parks citywide. De Blasio announced the initiative at Bowne Playground last October.
The new 1.2-acre park will feature play areas for children between ages two and five and one for kids up to age 12. New basketball courts and game tables will be installed on the northern end of the park. Handball courts will be constructed close to the school building and an events space will be built on the south end of the park along Sanford Avenue.
The comfort station in the park will be renovated as well.
The project designer, Misty March, said the new park will be surrounded by a smaller fence and several feet of planting to separate it from the sidewalk. March called the current 12-to 16-foot high chain-linked fences as “barrier and unfriendly condition both for those walking along the sidewalk and those playing in the playground.”
She noted that the basketball courts will still have high fences, as is standard for city parks.
The entrances to the park will also be moved. Entrances along Sanford Avenue will be relocated to east of the comfort station, while there will be one entrance on Barclay Avenue and a main entrance at the corner of Barclay Avenue and Union Street.
March said the reconstruction will protect a large oak tree on the northern end of the park and weeping beech near the comfort station. Only one tree and a stump will be removed as part of the project and more than a dozen new trees will be planted, including several flowering trees separating the basketball courts from the adult fitness and game area on the northern end of the park.
Board member Pablo Hernandez was concerned about whether or not teenagers would use the adult fitness equipment, which includes parallel bars and pull up bars, with their skateboards or roller blades and risk potentially serious injuries.
“How are we going to control teenagers who, say, roller blade on that equipment?” he asked. “[The adult fitness equipment] is very attractive for them to use when on roller blades.”
March explained that the flooring under the equipment won’t be conducive for rollerblading or skateboarding.
“The safety surface won’t give them any traction,” she said.
Board member Peter Kwaith of Whitestone expressed concern that the slides in the children’s play areas would be too hot in the summer.
“The slide gets extremely hot,” he said. “Is there a way that slide can be coated to prevent that burning sensations on the children?”
“We locate the slides to the north and the east away from direct sunlight so they won’t get too hot,” March said, adding that using different material would decrease the lifespan of the slide, and would also make it harder to slide.
The board approved the plans for a park with only one dissenting vote, from board member Clarissa Wong of Flushing, who had earlier expressed concerns about accessibility features for the play areas.