An asphalt schoolyard in Throggs Neck is set to undergo a transformation.
A ceremonial groundbreaking was held on Friday, January 20 for the renovation of the Piagentini and Jones Educational Campus’ schoolyard.
It will see a 1.96 acre asphalt yard transformed into a recreational juggernaut for students.
Joining schoolchildren at the groundbreaking, as work crews began preliminary construction, were Councilman James Vacca and representatives for the Trust for Public Land and New York Road Runners.
TPL helped design the playground with student input using financial support for their work coming from a NYRR donation of approximately $330,000.
The councilman allocated $800,000 for the project, and said he is confident it will be completed by the project target date of December.
“This is turning blacktop into a useful play space for our kids,” said Vacca.
Vacca said that he worked to address concerns of neighbors and homeowners on Hollywood Avenue and he had several meetings to collaborate with them on the project.
Some changes to the design resulted from these meetings, he said.
“(The neighbors) were a very integral part of the process,” said Vacca. “They made suggestions and we worked to accommodate them.”
Vacca said that he believes the campus will eventually house students from grads K through 8, and that this adds urgency to the push to improve the space.
As of now, in keeping with regulations, only children in school or programming at 650 Hollywood Avenue, the former I.S. 192 campus, will be using the facility once it is complete, according to sources.
P.S. 392, I.S. 467 and I.S. 371, as well as a Phipps afterschool program will use it.
The project is the largest playground TPL has built of its 189 playground projects in the city, said Mary Alice Lee, TPL director of New York City Playgrounds.
“We are doing this in two phases because the school(s) wanted to be able to use the yard during the construction,” said Lee. “We will start the second phase in the next few weeks.”
One of the interesting features of this particular playground, that came from student feedback, was the creation of girls’ basketball stations that are painted with pink lines because many girls at the campus schools said the boys monopolized the courts, said Lee.
The newly designed playground which plans to add green to the gray space, includes basketball courts, a running track, tennis courts and volleyball, multiple kinds of green space including planting areas and a kickball area.
Michael Schnall, NYRR vice-president, stated that the playground is part is one of three in the city that NYRR plans on constructing with TPL that are slated to be completed by the end of 2017.
The shared campuses on will have school-wide participation in NYRR’s free youth running programs, stated Schnall.
According to a previously published Bronx Times article, Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. allocated $750,000 for playground restoration to a particular school on the campus, P.S. 392, the Delta School, in the FY 2016 city budget.
A Diaz spokesman could not comment further on this allocation as of press time.