Students at PS 133 in Bellerose as well as residents of the surrounding community will have a reading garden in their future.
State Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) announced Tuesday that he secured $250,000 in state funding for improvements to the Bellerose Playground, which is adjacent to PS 133.
Parents and staff from the school have been advocating for a reading garden in a locked area of the playground for 10 years, according to Principal Marianne Sheridan, who attended the press conference.
“We have spoken about wanting to create a reading garden for quite a while ...,” the principal said. “For the children, not only at recess but during the day, this garden will create a wonderful atmosphere for reading ... I look forward to standing inside the newly transformed garden in the near future.”
The project was first submitted for consideration as part of City Councilman Mark Weprin’s (D-Oakland Gardens) participatory budgeting but did not obtain enough votes to be included. Roseanane Reinhardt, a paraprofessional at PS 133, through the Queens Colony Civic Association, asked Avella for help in obtaining the necessary funding.
Oscar Gomez, president of the PS 133 PTA, said the proposal was a way to get the students involved in their community. “This was a great project outside of schoolwork to take on in terms of advocating for this much needed transformation,” Gomez said.
Avella said he only found out recently that the shaded and gated space had been off-limits to the public for 10 years. “It is such a waste of a serene piece of property. So I am very glad by working with the school and the Department of Parks, we will now be able to create a nice reading area for the students, parents and area residents to visit on a daily basis,” he said.