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Buz O’Rourke Playground in Bayside set for $6.5 million ‘makeover’

Sep. 18, 2023 By Iryna Shkurhan

Councilwoman Vickie Paladino announced the allocation of $6.5 million to renovate the Buz O’Rourke Playground at Crocheron Park in Bayside last week. 

The funding, announced on Sept. 14, was issued in partnership with City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams for the 2024 Fiscal Year. It will cover new play equipment, sidewalks, seating, a drainage system and landscaping, among other improvements. 

“After visiting the playground with the Parks Administrator it was abundantly clear that renovation was necessary. I heard from many of my constituents who frequent the playground and knew that this was a priority for my district,” said Paladino, who represents Bayside. “Securing this funding in the recent budget negotiations was one of my top priorities.”

The playground was added to the park in 1936, along with tennis courts, a baseball diamond and a field house following efforts by the Bayside Civic Association. In 1999, the playground underwent a renovation after then Borough President Claire Shulman allotted $867,000 for upgrades in honor of O’Rourke, a longtime Bayside activist who also served as her Director of Constituent Services. 

Since 1999, the aquatic themed playground hasn’t seen any improvements. But the broader 45.8-acre park, which sits on the shores of Little Neck Bay, has been upgraded in various ways recently. 

The wear and tear on the play equipment is visible. Photo by Iryna Shkurhan

Construction on the ballfields at Crocheron Park, which included new fences, natural turf and accessible paths and dugouts, was completed in July 2020. The project received slightly more than $1.5 million in funding from the Borough President and the City Council. 

Before that, the NYC Parks Department completed the installment of special needs play equipment in Crocheron Park, as well as Fort Totten, in April 2017. The $1.8 million project was funded by the mayor’s office and the City Council. 

Now that the funding for the playground’s renovation is secured, a community input meeting will be scheduled to gauge what elements local residents would like to see in the playground’s new design. After that, the project will move into the design phase, which generally lasts 10-16 months to allow the Parks Department to develop a conceptual design and receive approval. 

The next step in the park’s capital process would be procurement – a nine-month process to select a contractor and set a work start date. Then the average time for construction of a parks project is 12-18 months. 

“We offer our sincere thanks to Council member Paladino for the recently announced funds for this upcoming renovation, and we look forward to officially kicking off the project in the coming months at a Community Input Meeting,” said NYC Parks Department spokesperson Dan Kastanis.

The design stage of Crocheron Park’s current Path Reconstruction project, which was started in December 2022, is currently 5% complete. The Parks Department anticipates that the design phase of the project will be completed in April 2024. 

The playground will remain open for the time being. Photo by Iryna Shkurhan

“Buz O’Rourke will be getting a makeover in the coming years and I will remain on top of this project to ensure it is completed in a timely fashion and done to the community’s satisfaction,” added Paladino. “I’d like to thank the Department of Parks and Recreation for their continued dedication to the parks and playgrounds in District 19 and for their attention to Buz O’Rourke Playground.”

The playground is located on 34th Avenue and 214th Place. It is open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. every day.

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