TN schoolyard gets major playground improvement

TN schoolyard gets major playground improvement
Photo courtesy of Councilman Vacca’s office

A large schoolyard in Throggs Neck looks like it will receive a big makeover.

The educational campus at 650 Hollywood Avenue that houses several schools and the Phipps Neighborhoods Beacon afterschool program will see a major capital improvement to its sprawling schoolyard.

A total of $1.88 million has been allocated from three different sources at the Piagentini and Jones campus to make improvements including the addition of a running track surrounded by greenspace, a children’s garden, volleyball and tennis courts, kickball space, basketball courts and several planting areas.

The improvements include play spaces specifically for two- to five-year-olds and for six- to 12-year-olds.

Councilman James Vacca, who said he met with school officials and neighbors on Hollywood Avenue, made the largest allocation, $800,000.

“Really, if you look at the schoolyard right now, it is really blacktop and one or two basketball courts,” said Vacca, adding that the upgraded playground area will be used by the students in the schools on the campus.

Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. contributed $750,000 to one of the school’s on the campus, P.S. 392, the Bronx Delta School in fiscal year 2016 for a playground renovation, according to a spokeswoman.

Additional support for the project came from the Trust For Public Land, which kicked in $330,000, said Mary Alice Lee, the director of New York City Playgrounds at the organization.

“The Trust for Public Land has a public-private partnership with the City of New York to renovate school playgrounds,” said Lee, “We had a three-month design process where we worked closely with the students at the schools to design their park.”

As part of the design process in the spring with students at four schools that were then part of the campus, the young people worked with TPL landscape architects to develop the plans based on what they would like to see, said Lee.

As this was happening, Vacca and Diaz had put in funding to renovate the playground, so TPL was able to match the two projects together, said Lee.

The New York Roadrunners provided funding to cover staff costs incurred by TPL, she said.

The job is currently being put out to bid, and construction could begin in the fall or winter, she said.

Bob Bieder of Community Board 10’s Youth Service Committee said that the project looks like it is going forward after the community had some input, and that this is a positive development.

“They have put together a beautiful set of plans,” he said. “It is really a nice design and it should be ideal.”

He added that the plan is very appealing to the eye, and should give the community something nice to look at rather then the current “gray space.”

Reach Reporter Patrick Rocchio at (718) 260–4597. E-mail him at Follow him on Twitter @patrickfrocchio.