Sep. 1, 2023 By Bill Parry
Councilwoman Nantasha Williams hosted a “check ceremony” at Harvard Playground in Jamaica Hills on Aug. 30 to commemorate her allocation of $2.755 million in capital funding for the reconstruction and revitalization of the playground that was heavily damaged during Hurricane Ida in August 2021.
The project was a priority request of Ida flood victims in the neighborhood who sought further city investments in their community following the disaster.
“One of the greatest things we can do as council members is to allocate capital funding to our schools and our parks, which are institutions that play such a huge role in the fabric of a community,” Williams said. “When I was running for election, one of the biggest requests I got was to do something about this playground. I remembered that and when I won my race, I got into office and set out to make sure that I prioritize this park, prioritize this community. There is not a lot of green space, so this is really one of the only places the local community has, the children have, to come and play.”
It was a promise kept to a neighborhood that will shift over to another council district when redistricting is implemented at the start of next year. The community around Harvard Playground will become part of District 23, currently represented by Councilwoman Linda Lee.
“Green spaces, park spaces, spaces where our children can play is extremely important, especially making sure that it is equitable across our city, across Queens, is hugely, hugely important and I just feel honored to be taking over this part of the district,” Lee said. “The outdoor spaces and green spaces during COVID, we saw how important they were and we have to make sure that we continue to renovate, upkeep these gems, and make sure we create a space for all of our residents and all of our neighbors to utilize all year round.”
In addition to much-needed repairs to playground surfaces and handball courts that were damaged during the flooding. For Jamaica Hills resident Amit Shivprasad, who lives a few blocks away from the playground, a new spray shower will be well received in the community.
“As a young man growing up in this area and playing at this park back in my junior high school days and high school days, I think this will make a big difference,” Shivprasad said. “In the summertime, all the kids are here, so this is a wide area, it’s not just Jamaica Avenue, we have people from South Jamaica that come over here, so I think it’s a good idea.”
The playground, located on 179th Place just north of Jamaica Avenue, opened in 1937 and the late Councilman Archie Spigner funded an $898,000 renovation of the park in 1998 that changed the playground to its current form. NYC Parks Queens Borough Commissioner Jackie Langsam said local residents will be pleased with the nearly $3 million renovation project.
“This is a wonderful, wonderful gift to the community and we are going to do our best with this to make this park absolutely amazing,” Langsam said. “I’m looking forward to running through the spay shower when this playground is completed!”
Additional reporting by Paul Frangipane.