Community Demands: Why Is Park Still Closed?
Parents, children, supporters and local officials, some with their own children, came to protest the abrupt closure of the playground located near the beach, between Beach 108th and 110th Streets.
Marissa Bernowitz, one of the rally’s organizers, said “Our children need somewhere to play. Our children need recreation and exercise. Our children deserve better than this.
“What will it take to reopen a playground? And we will not allow the answer to be Sandy destroyed the park; thankfully this is not the case.”
“Then without notice one day children went to play at the playground and it was partially barricaded, she continued. “The swings were gone. And safety mats under one of the swing sets were removed. Piece by piece, not all at once either.”
“The one playground set has nothing wrong with it yet is surrounded by NYPD barriers and very poorly placed hard plastic orange netting, she said.
Bernowitz, a mother and one of the founders of the Rockaway Weekly Free Flee Market, said that after the closure many residents and local politicians called and e-mailed the Parks Department.
“The NYC Parks Department website has no notations whatsoever stating this playground is either closed or partially unavailable. Up until this evening there was even a Danger and Stop sign on one side. (It has since disappeared.) If in fact the playground set is a danger and unsafe then perhaps the proper precautions should be taken.”
The rally was organized by the women who run the Rockaway Free Flea Market, a donation distribution center for those still in need, to draw attention to necessity of having this neighborhood fixture and resource reopened.
“This is the only playground within a three mile radius that had baby swings,” Bernowitz added. “The only playground that is so close to the boardwalk and the beach, yet was it was NOT included in the RFP (Request for Proposal ) (for work to be bid out) for repair after Sandy.”
Contacted for comment regarding the Seaside Park closure issue, a Parks spokesman stated “NYC Parks has invested more than $200 million in the Rockaway peninsula since Hurricane Sandy -- reopening the beach, fixing damaged parks and playgrounds, and rebuilding infrastructure to be more resilient -– completing work that would typically take four years in only five months.
“In our first phase of repairs, five of the most severely damaged Rockaway playgrounds were repaired and reopened.”
“Seaside Playground, which is partially closed, is included in a second phase of repairs, scheduled to start soon. In the interim, the playground's spray shower, multi-purpose play area and handball courts are open, and Bayside Playground is a short walk away.”
Summing up what those at the rally were demanding, Bernowitz said, “Our children need somewhere to play. Our children need recreation and exercise. Our children deserve better than this.”