June 30, 2015 By Jackie Strawbridge
The Parks Department is standing by its controversial decision to remove a mini-pool from Astoria Heights Playground.
Parks is working on a more than $3 million redesign plan for the playground, which will include the replacement of the playground’s 3-foot deep pool with a spray shower, as well as upgraded play equipment, athletic courts and more tree shade.
While most were pleased to learn that the aging playground would receive an upgrade, several parents disapproved of the pool’s removal.
Without the pool, critics said, the playground would have little appeal for upper-elementary and middle-school age kids.
As a result, the Parks Department held a meeting on last week to explain its design and field parent concerns, although Queens Parks Commissioner Dorothy Lewandowski said there is little to no opportunity to include the mini-pool in the renovation plan and “no major changes” are in store for the plan as a whole.
However, the Commissioner acknowledged that Parks could try to make up for the loss of the pool with an added design element.
Parks is discussing incorporating play equipment that would cater to much older children. Lewandowski described the possible equipment as a climbing area, which would engage advanced motor skills and would have some sitting space for kids to socialize.
The equipment would be “in between fitness yet play,” landscape architect Denise Mattes, who designed the playground revamp, said.
Not all parents are sorry to see the mini-pool go.
“The pool doesn’t serve everybody,” one said, noting that it is only open to children or parents with children, and having been constructed 35 years ago, does not serve the disabled population as a modern pool would be required to.
“Is this the pool that we want be trying so, so hard to save?” she asked.
The Parks Department aims to begin construction in the fall of 2016.