BY JACKIE STRAWBRIDGE
Astoria parents’ protests have paid off.
Last Thursday, the City Council adopted a Fiscal Year 2015 budget that includes $1.6 million in funding for renovations at Astoria Heights Park, long criticized by neighborhood families as dirty and even dangerous.
The funding was allocated by Borough President Melinda Katz and Councilman Costa Constantinides (D-Astoria). According to Constantinides, the money will go towards a complete redesign of the park, including new playground equipment, new benches, gates for toddlers and relocating adult fitness equipment away from the playground area.
“I think this is going to be a major renovation… really making it a more welcoming, cleaned up park,” Constantinides said.
Lynn Kennedy is the founder of Friends of Astoria Heights Playground, a neighborhood organization that has been pushing for upgrades to the playground for almost a year. Problems include exposed tree roots, an eroding perimeter, loose garbage and buckled floorspace.
“I am elated that we got the funding so soon. I really believe that our group has played a major role on facilitating the speed with which this has happened,” Kennedy said.
“The project now needs to be put into momentum and Costantinides is asking for our group’s help in holding the Parks Dept. accountable,” Kennedy added. “We are looking forward to playing a role in the new design of the playground and its approval with Community Board 1.”
Constantinides said that Friends of Astoria Heights Park “absolutely” had a direct hand in securing this funding.
“They’ve been amazing,” Constantinides said. “Anytime if you see so involved parents and members of the community coming together, it’s very heartening. And we wanted to make sure that their concerns were met, and we’re very excited about seeing this allocation moving forward.”
Friends of Astoria Heights Park will continue its community engagement programs throughout the summer. Among other events, a free junior tennis league for kids five to 18 years old will begin on July 7, and on July 20, volunteers will gather to paint the park’s walls and garbage cans.
A separate $1 million of the budget is allocated for renovations at Moser Park in Jackson Heights.
Reach Jackie Strawbridge at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 128, firstname.lastname@example.org or @JNStrawbridge.