By Luis Gronda
A Howard Beach park got a much-needed sprucing up thanks in part to a group of high school volunteers.
The Student Conservation Association and City Parks Dept. teamed up to clean up debris and damage still left over from Superstorm Sandy in Charles Park.
The group of 40 people, split about evenly between the non-profit organization and City agency, spent four hours last Friday morning freshening up parts of the park that need fixing, including digging out the dugouts at the park’s baseball fields and repainting benches in the playground.
The students helped clean the park as part of the SCA’s Sandy Recovery Project, which aims to bring relief to Sandy-damaged areas, like Howard Beach, by renovating infrastructure damaged by the storm.
Diane Stanley, the program manager for the SCA and one of the supervisors overseeing the clean-up last Friday, said restoring the park to its former glory was their main goal for this project.
“We really want to be able to bring this park back to its original state so that the people in this area feel like their park is in better shape and they can use it as an amenity again,” she said.
Jayden Nelson, a 17-year-old Campus Magnet High School student, said being outside and doing work, even in the scorching hot weather that occurred last week, is much better than staying inside and playing video games all day.
“When we get done, it feels much better because you feel like you completed something, especially because I’m doing it with my team,” said Nelson, a Rosedale resident.
He was part of the team that shoveled dirt out of the dugouts in the park’s baseball fields and spread it on the playing surface to patch up any potential holes on the field.
Some of the kids lending a hand in the clean-up were from the areas surrounding Sandy Hook, NJ, another area that bore the brunt of Sandy’s destruction.
Shawn Chasmar, who lives five miles inland from Sandy Hook, said he felt the need to help out after hearing of other areas struggling with Sandy recovery. He did some work with cleaning up nearby Sandy Hook and he said he wanted to do the same in Charles Park. Chasmar was helping repaint the benches in the park’s playground.
Reach Luis Gronda at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 127, firstname.lastname@example.org, or @luisgronda.