The Astoria Park Alliance hosted their community’s It’s My Park Day on Sunday, and talked to local parents about what upgrades they would like to see in Charybdis Playground.
One of the biggest focuses of this year’s It’s My Park Day at Astoria Park was increasing support for a possible expansion of the playground and ascertaining which aspects of the park are most in need of upgrading. Parents were invited to rank their choices for possible upgrades on a vision board with multiple categories that had options for park activities and programming, playground equipment, safety features and amenities.
Many parents expressed specific concerns about the restrooms at Charybdis Playground, saying that they can usually be found locked or too dirty to use.
Anthony Liberatoscioli, a volunteer with the Astoria Park Alliance who uses the park with his 4-year-old daughter, said that he wants to see the playground grow as Astoria becomes more and more popular for growing families.
“More and more families are coming to Astoria. They really need a place to come,” said Liberatoscioli.
Martha Lopez-Gilpin, co-chair of the Astoria Park Alliance, stressed that it was especially important to educate parents on the capital budgeting process through which city projects get funded, and how this affects the advocated park expansion. According to Lopez-Gilpin, it could take anywhere from three to five years for the project to see fruition, and several million dollars.
“It is hard to be patient, but it’s important that we go through this process well because we want to have the best playground possible,” said Gilpin.
Educational activities were also provided for children during It’s My Park Day, and each proved to be a hit with local tykes of all ages. A large group continuously colored and scribbled on an outline drawing provided by Charles Basman of Arthouse Astoria, a local conservatory that offers music and painting classes at an affordable rate. Volunteers also were teaching how to transplant and care for small flowering plants which the children were able to take home to keep.
Councilman Costa Constantinides said that the event was an important outlet for residents to share their input on their experiences with the park and what improvements need to be made.
“Having days like this is so important,” Constantinides said. “It’s giving residents of this neighborhood an opportunity to talk about what they want for their park.”
The It’s My Park program is a citywide, year-round initiative organized by the City Parks Foundation, a nonprofit that creates programs in parks throughout all five boroughs of New York City. The “It’s My Park” program engages over 400 groups annually in hands-on service projects and events, including cleaning up litter in parks, raking leaves and painting benches. Service projects also often feature free, family-oriented activities such as tennis lessons, face painting and historic house tours.