June 26, By Christian Murray
The plans to revamp a worn-down Woodside park were presented Wednesday night at a Community Board 2 committee meeting.
The Parks Department is currently in the design phase to upgrade a section of Big Bush Park that many say is in need of repair and new equipment.
The park, located between 61st and 64th Streets—near Queens Blvd, is about 2.5 acres in size. The revamp will apply to .9 acres of it, which is the section best known for the children’s playground and handball courts.
Steven Whitesell, who represented the Parks Department, said the children’s play equipment has not been upgraded since the 1980s, the swings no long meet Americans with Disabilities standards, and the .9 acres of space was not being fully utilized.
The upgrade will cost $2.2 million, with the funds secured by Queens Borough President Melinda Katz and Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer.
“With this funding we will change the face of this important community hub by making improvements that will expand the amount of green space throughout the park, introduce new play areas for children of all ages as well as enhance existing space for seniors and adults to enjoy,” Van Bramer said.
The department said the new design increases the play area for children (including water play), creates an adult exercise section and adds space/features for seniors.
To increase the space for children and adults, the Parks Department plans to remove three of the existing handball courts in the 0.9 acre area—thereby reducing the total number of courts in the greater 2.5 acre park from eight to five.
Furthermore, it plans to get rid of two large metal containers being used by the department for maintenance and operations purposes.
The design would create two separate play areas—one for 2-5 year olds, the other for 5-12 year olds. The play areas would be in a central area of the park closer to the comfort station.
Pat O’Brien, chairman of Community Board 2, requested that the department put gates around the play area for 5-12 year-olds as a safety precaution—to ensure that young children don’t dart out into the street. The plan includes such gates for the 2-5 year old play area.
The water play area will be in the section of the park that gets the most sun. Meanwhile, the adult exercise area would be some distance from the play areas.
Furthermore there would be benches and games tables geared toward seniors.
Thirteen trees in questionable health are likely to be removed although 40-plus new trees will be planted as well as more shrubbery.
The plan also calls for new benches, pavers, fencing and better lighting.
The revamp is expected to be completed in 2017.
“Every great neighborhood deserves a great park and these much-needed improvements will give generations of local residents a perfect space to enjoy the outdoors right in the heart of Woodside.”