The Dutch Kills playground in Astoria, Queens, will soon be transformed from asphalt and concrete into a modern green park, according to design plans unveiled Tuesday for a $4.5 million renovation.
The asphalt floor of the playground will be replaced with sections of greenery that will have trees and planter beds, according to Dorothy Lewandowski, the Queens parks commissioner. The playground will also receive new swing sets and play equipment, picnic tables, fitness equipment for adults and a new spray shower that will be turned on during the summer, she said.
Most of the planter beds and grassy sections of the park will also be bioswales, which are special landscapes designed to remove silt and pollution from surface runoff water, according to the New York City Department of Environmental Protection.
Design plans for the new park and playground were unveiled by Lewandowski, District 26 City Council member Jimmy Van Bramer and the park’s designer, Tom Brown, at a press conference at P.S. 112, which is located right next to the playground.
Van Bramer said that one his favorite aspects of the new park is the greenery because as a child in western Queens, he grew up going to concrete playgrounds. “It softens the landscape, it’s more beautiful,” he said. “It allows children to be in a playground but also a park atmosphere. There’s beauty around the play areas. That’s what I want in all my parks.”
Van Bramer said he secured funding for the new park from Mayor Bill DeBlasio in early April. “Every once in a while, there’s a project that screams for work,” he said, “but all the funding can’t always come from my personal office so there was an opportunity here.”
“We’ve done a lot of events in P.S. 112…but the sort of concrete heavy nature of the place really called for a re-envisioning of the park and that required partnership to get that extra funding,” he said.
P.S. 112 Principal Rafael Campos Gatjens thanked Van Bramer. A few students also came up to the podium to thank Van Bramer for their new playground.
Lewandowski also gave credit for the new park to Van Bramer during her remarks. “If it were not for the council member we would not be here today,” she said.
Van Bramer said that one of the primary goals of the project is to make the equipment safer since the playground has not been renovated in two decades. “I hope it [new park] will make our world a better place and a little bit safer and a little more fun for our community,” said Van Bramer. “It feels great because I know that it will be used by generations of children.”
The renovation is expected to take up to three years, according to Lewandowski. Van Bramer said he is not sure when crews will break ground but hopes it will be sometime during the first half of 2017.
At the end of the press conference, Van Bramer turned to all the children who were sitting on stage with him and asked, “Are we all happy?” The children yelled, “Yes,” with smiles on their faces.