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It is not often that a civic group regrets cleaning up a playground, but it almost happened in Whitestone this month.
Pint-sized residents of a northeast Queens neighborhood will have some new digs to play in after the city Parks Department finishes a complete reconstruction of the Whitestone playground.
The playground is between 11th and 12th avenues and 152nd and 154th streets, and previously featured a jungle gym, slides and swing sets as well as a number of benches for adults.
But patches of the metal on the jungle gym, where children were constantly scrambling around, were starting to rust and create jagged edges, according to neighbors.
Many parents who live in the area sent an e-mail to Devon O’Connor, who runs the Welcome to Whitestone Commercial and Residential Civic Association.
In response to the concerns over the hazardous play conditions, O’Connor decided to do something about it and planned for a park cleanup.
“I thought, ‘All right, I could talk to somebody... maybe we could put together a park cleanup, maybe do a beautification project,’” O’Connor said.
An event created on the civic’s Facebook page asked those in the neighborhood to pitch in and pick up the park.
But after going through the proper channels at the Parks Department, O’Connor was told not to have the cleanup.
And they had a good reason.
“They said, ‘Hold off on the clean-up project. There are actually plans in place to do a renovation,’” he said.
Indeed, Parks already had plans to completely renovate the playground and stopped O’Connor from wasting the civic’s efforts.
Crews hired by Parks have already begun tearing up the playground with huge construction equipment, according to a spokesman.
The $310,000 project will include new play equipment, a new safety surface for the existing equipment and concrete repair throughout the site, according to parks.
The construction is set to be completed by the end of the fall.
O’Connor will still hold the cleanup, according to Parks, but it will have to wait until after the repairs.
The civic leader and his brothers still wanted to contribute, however, which is why they instead got permission from Parks to repaint lines on the three basketball rims also near the playground.
Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4566.
©2012 Community Newspaper Group
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