Parents of students at P.S. 14 and neighbors who live near the school got a sneak peak at plans for a new playground during a question and answer session held to gather further input for the Parks department and DOE. The meeting was held at the school on Monday, January 26.
Officials from the Department of Parks and Recreation, Department of Education, and national non-profit Trust for Public Land answered questions from parents of children in the school and the community when it came to designing the new, $320,000 playground.
While construction is not set to begin until sometime in 2010, the new space which P.S. 14 students helped to design already includes a painted track, baseball key, mini-school for outdoor classes, painted games, and 19 new trees. It will be open to the public during daytime hours when school programming is not in session.
“I think by taking community input, it helps not only to build ownership but also keeps the playground safe, well-maintained, and well-used,” said Joan Keener, of the Trust for Public Land, who moderated much of the presentation.
Many neighbors nearby were worried about the public access to the park after school hours and during weekends and the summer, as it has the potential for vandalism or disorder when it came to neighborhood teenagers and adults.
“A session like this is good if they listen to the community’s suggestions,” said Stephen Ferrer, who was at the meeting. “I live across the street from the playground and I know it may sound selfish, but there is going to have to be a lot of attention paid to security. In this era of budget cuts, that may be difficult.”
P.S. 14 principal Jason Kovac allayed the community’s concerns when it came to security in the playground at night. He said that there are allocations in the budget for increased maintenance at the playground that will keep it clean for both the students and community. Kovac also said that the park would be locked at night.
Among the other suggestions from local residents included the installation of a large piece of playground equipment – like a jungle gym – which Parks said would be cost prohibitive, putting swings in the playground – which is against DOE regulations, planting evergreen trees so that there is green in the space in all seasons, soccer and kickball markings on the blacktop and a suggestion the community partner with non-profits in Throggs Neck to create programming while school is not in session.
“These discussions are useful because we have already made changes to the design with input from the community,” said Rafe Greco, the parent of a third-grader at P.S. 14. “I now understand why the plans are the way they are and I know what to expect here.”
When construction does commence in 2010, the playground will be out of commission for four to five months.