A major addition planned for the London Planetree Park, including a spot for skateboarding, more basketball courts and a sitting area for seniors, will bring much needed recreation to Ozone Park, residents and city officials said.
“We definitely need more courts,” said Jovannie Makatini, 16, of Ozone Park, who shoots hoops at the park almost daily. “When it’s sunny, everybody comes here.”
The $1.6 million project, for which Queens Borough President Helen Marshall allocated $1 million and Councilman Eric Ulrich (R-Ozone Park) gave $600,000 in city funds, is expected to be completed in the fall of 2012, according to Queens Parks Commissioner Dorothy Lewandowski.
City officials said plans for the facility at 88th Street and Atlantic Avenue include a skate park that would feature banks and slopes, two basketball courts, a walking path, a sitting area, fitness equipment and additional greenery, including trees and shrubs.
Lewandowski said city officials began looking to build the addition to the park because Ulrich had said he wanted to find a place for skateboarders to go so they would no longer tweak their wheels in a shopping center parking lot at Atlantic Avenue and 92nd Street.
“We’re trying to get them off the street and into a park, where it will be safer,” Lewandowski said.
Makatini said many of his friends who board will be thrilled with the new space.
“It would be nice to go here instead of having to go to Flushing Meadows or Manhattan,” he said in reference to skate parks in those areas.
The Planetree site would be the fifth skateboarding park in Queens. There are parks at Flushing Meadows Corona Park, Forest Park, Astoria Park and in Rockaway. There are 13 such spots in the city.
“The skate parks are definitely well used,” Lewandowski said.
Lewandowski said parks officials are expected to bring the plans for Planetree before the city Public Design Commission in less than two weeks. Once they get the green-light from that body, the department can put the project out to bid. She expects construction will begin this fall and be completed in approximately one year.
“This should be a very beneficial thing to the neighborhood,” said civic activist David Quintana, who lives in Ozone Park. “There’s a lot of skateboarders these days. It’s something the teens and 20-set are very into.”
Dan Andrews, Marshall’s spokesman, said the borough president “supports the need for this park.”
“She has allocated more than $140 million for parks, their facilities and new fields since taking office,” Andrews said. “This is in keeping with her continuing capital funding support for the borough’s parks.”
Joseph Soto, 14, of Ozone Park, said he routinely plays basketball at London Planetree and said the area needed a definite pick-me-up.
“We need more courts and more water fountains,” Soto said. “There are two water fountains now, but one of them doesn’t work. I hope when they do the work here, they definitely add the water fountains.”