June 7, 2016 By Michael Florio
After years of planning and a year of construction, the ribbon was cut on a renovated Astoria playground today.
Paul Raimonda Playground, located on 20th Avenue between 47th and 48th Streets, recently reopened after a $1.7 million renovation that brought in new play equipment for toddlers and children and new fitness equipment for adults. The Parks Department also installed a new spray shower that is shaped like a baby grand piano, inspired by the Steinway and Sons piano factory located nearby.
The shower has an interactive button; when pushed it will spray water for three minutes. This allows kids to enjoy the shower while saving water when it is not being used, Queens Parks Commissioner Dorothy Lewandowski said.
Kids’ play space is separated by age group, with equipment for children ages two through five and equipment for children ages six through 12, which features a rock wall and a climbing bridge.
“The toddler playground has interactive engaging structures that help with early learning and development,” Lewandowski said. “The older children playground encourages individual and group play.”
Council Member Costa Constantinides, who allocated funding for the project, said the renovated playground has “potentially the most updated play equipment in western Queens.”
Along with the updates for kids, the Parks Department also replaced underutilized bocce ball courts with adult fitness equipment.
The park’s seating area was moved near the trees, which are now surrounded by planters, at the community’s request. The flagpole base was also renovated during construction.
“The space is much more dynamic now than before,” Constantinides said.
He expects many children to take advantage of the park this summer.
“The Parks Department did a great job. The park is beautiful,” he said. “When you improve a park, you strengthen a community.”
Constantindes said he has been discussing the renovation of this playground with Alberta Maineri-Burke, founder of the organization Friends of Raimonda Park, since before he was even in office.
“The discussion started about five years ago,” he said.
The design process for renovation of the 1.31-acre playground began in February 2012, and took about a year longer than expected, according to the Parks Department’s project page. The park closed when reconstruction began last summer and reopened this month, according to Parks.
Maineri-Burke is planning a grand reopening celebration in the playground on July 16, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. The event is still in the works but she hopes to have face painting, an art contest for children, a sing-along and plantings and gardening, as well as a personal trainer to help show adults how to fully utilize the fitness equipment.
She hopes to host additional events in the future, such as a movie night or potluck, to help bring the community together at the playground.