On May 9, several local officials as well as community residents helped to break ground towards renovating the Thomas P. Noonan Playground in Sunnyside. Officials included NYC Council Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer, Queens Parks Department Commissioner Dorothy Lewandowski, and representatives of Community Board 2.
Community residents included students from I.S. 125 and P.S. 199, veterans from VFW 2813, and members of the St. Sebastian's Catholic War Veterans group.Council Member Van Bramer allocated around $2 million towards redesigning and expanding the local park, which is named after local Vietnam War vet Lance Corporal Thomas P. Noonan (1943-1969).
“Noonan Playground is an important community hub for our seniors, families and local children,” said Council Member Van Bramer. “The renovations that begin today will expand the popular playground, also known as “Rainbow Park,” introduce new green spaces, make the park safer for young children and forever commemorate the sacrifices our local veterans made for this great nation. This inclusive project is a wonderful example of what we can accomplish when we work together as a community to incorporate the needs of our local residents. I believe great parks equal great neighborhoods, and with the feedback we have received from the community, we will rebuild a better playground that everyone can enjoy.”
Back in 2011, Council Member Van Bramer launched his Noonan Park Community Design Initiative in Sunnyside, in order to receive suggestions from the community on how to redesign the park. These suggestions were later incorporated into the renovation project, which is expected to last about a year.
Alysia Quan, a former student of P.S. 199 who is now student government vice president at I.S. 125, was one of those whose suggestions were taken into consideration. “It was a great honor to have been part of the reconstruction of such a prominent part of Sunnyside,” said Quan, “Rainbow Park represents my childhood."
“It is heartwarming to see that our Councilman listens to the voices of the children in our community and has taken the steps necessary to refurbish our wonderful park,” said Judy Mittler, Principal of I.S. 125. Local veterans and the Parks Department are also working together to create a commemorative plaque listing the names of war veterans who served from Woodside and Sunnyside.
After renovation, the park will include more accessible play equipment, separate areas for toddlers (2-5 years old) and older kids (6-12 years old), more swing sets and a new "Rainbow" spray shower. Additional green space will be planted alongside Greenpoint Avenue and 43rd Street, site drainage and lighting will be improved upon, and more bike racks, benches, paving and fencing will be installed.
In other news, Council Member Van Bramer had this to say about Mayor de Blasio's Executive Budget for FY 2015:
“Mayor de Blasio’s inclusion of $20 million in his Executive Budget for certified arts teachers and expanding arts in schools is an enormous step forward toward increasing cultural access for kids in every neighborhood. I am proud to have led the fight for this funding to be included in the Council’s preliminary budget response and I want to thank Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Finance Chair Julissa Ferreras and all my Council colleagues for joining me in this call for funding for the arts in our City’s schools. I also want to thank New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer for his report which highlights the need for this funding. This action will give children in under served neighborhoods the ability to experience the joy and wonder of art in their schools and classrooms. As a result, their education will be better and more well-rounded as they prepare for the future.”