The design has been internally approved by the Parks Department, and is now going through the process of receiving comments and approval from external regulatory agencies after Community Board 7 voted Monday in favor of approving the project.
The Bowne Playground occupies 1.28 acres at Union Street between Barclay Avenue and Sanford Avenue. It is utilized by both neighborhood families and students at P.S. 20, which has an enrollment of around 1,400.
The renovation aims to create new park amenities and increase play opportunities for children of all ages, as well as upgrade existing features and create community space with flexible uses. The estimated end date for the project is set for 2017.
The new design will change the layout of the park to divide the area into several different sections for different activities and age groups. Currently, the playground contains a play area, a swing set, and basketball and handball courts that surround a multiuse paved space in the center of the playground.
The worn and cracked asphalt will be replaced, and two new play areas and swing sets for different age groups will be installed. The ball courts will remain, and new areas will be added, including a group of game tables, a space with adult fitness equipment, and an open area for community gatherings and events.
One of noticeable changes will be a new 4-foot wrought-iron exterior fence replacing the 12- and 16-foot chain-link fencing that currently encircles the playground’s perimeter. This switch was initially met with contention by some members of the community board who feared that lower barriers may pose a higher risk to children who might try to climb into the park and fall, or that teenagers might climb over in the nighttime after park hours.
Joanne Amagrande-Savarese, chief of staff to the Queens Parks Department commissioner, said that the department did not anticipate having problems with children climbing over the fences because it would be easy to get in through other entryways into the area. She added that in recent years the department has been trying make parks look less enclosed and more open to the community, and have largely been lowering the height of park fences to a four-foot standard in order to achieve this goal.
“What we’re trying to do right now is make our parks more inviting and more accessible,” said Amagrande-Savarese.
In addition to the new fences, the new playground will also be significantly greener, with twice as much permeable surface area to collect stormwater. There are currently trees only around the perimeter of the playground, and the new design will significantly increase the tree count to add more shade and differentiate between different areas of the park.