With summer here and the temperatures soaring, youngsters in Whitestone have something to cheer about with the completion of a new playground at Francis Lewis Park.
Because of construction work on the Whitestone Bridge, the original playground — located under the superstructure — had to be removed. The $109 million MTA project, which began last August, to reconstruct and widen the Queens roadway approach, also included rebuilding the playground.
In an agreement with the Parks Department, MTA Bridges and Tunnels relocated the facility to a grassy area just past the bocce courts, overlooking the East River. It features separate play areas for 2- to 5-year-olds and 6- to 12-year-olds, a spray shower water feature, new swings, a climbing boulder and new benches.
“We’ve always had a strong relationship with the community and we hope that this new and improved playground shows our commitment to be good neighbors,” said bridge General Manager Ray Webb.
Meanwhile, bridge work will continue for another two and one-half years.
The 16-acre Francis Lewis Park, located at Third Avenue, 147th Street, the East River and Parsons Boulevard, was named after a signer of the Declaration of Independence. A successful merchant, Lewis maintained his home there, which was burned by the British during the American Revolution. The Redcoats also took his wife prisoner.