April 6, 2015 By Christian Murray
Sunnyside’s kids can now head over to Thomas P. Noonan Playground and play on the swings and slides.
The Parks Dept. completed its $2 million revamp Monday and the playground will be open Tuesday.
The playground has been expanded and now includes two children’s play areas, an upgraded rainbow sprinkler, new climbing areas, new swings, new safety surfaces, and shrubbery.
The whole area has been repaved and has been fenced off to block children from running out onto the street and to separate the playground area from the adult section.
Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, who was at the playground today, took a look at the new play areas and checked out the upgrades. Many parents and children peered over the fence while he was walking through the playground and told him how excited they were that it was reopening tomorrow.
“Yes, finally,” said one young boy to Van Bramer. A mother with a stroller excitedly told Van Bramer: “I will tell all the Sunnymoms,” an online group consisting of many local mothers. She thanked him profusely.
Van Bramer said that the Parks Department initially said the playground would be ready by summer. “I pushed hard for it to reopen as soon as possible so the kids could enjoy it as soon as the weather got nice,” he said. “We are two months ahead of schedule.”
Van Bramer, who called for the upgrade in 2012, initially allocated $600,000 to fix the rainbow sprinkler and its surroundings—but the revamp grew into a $2 million project where the playground underwent a complete makeover.
The revamp stemmed from a P.S.199 student who proposed a cleanup day at the park when Van Bramer was visiting the school. On the day of the cleanup, Van Bramer said he noticed the play area was in need of repair.
“I noticed broken and chopped up concrete by the rainbow sprinkler and I realized we had to fix it,” he said. “I imagined little feet running around getting cut up by the surface.”
Van Bramer then took a closer look at the playground in its entirety and realized more work needed to be done.
The Parks Department, based on community feedback, increased the size of the playground, providing room for two sets of play areas instead of the one that was there, Van Bramer said. Today, there is one play area that targets 2-to-5 year olds, while another for 5-to-12 year olds.
To make room for the older-children’s play area, some of the adult benches near the chess & checkers area were removed, Van Bramer said. The playground is separated from the adult area by fencing and shrubbery.
The rainbow sprinkler system has been moved closer to the playground entrance at the corner of Greenpoint Ave. and 43rd Street. The sprinkler has been revamped with the latest fixtures. There are at least 20 holes that will spray children from multiple directions.
A flagpole has been erected in honor of Thomas P. Noonan, who was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor after the Vietnam War. There will also be a plaque that honors other Sunnyside residents who were killed in Vietnam in the coming months.
The basketball courts will also be resurfaced at the end of summer.
Van Bramer said that the final task will be to upgrade the park house, which includes the bathrooms. He said he is seeking funding to revamp it.