Work on the Thomas P. Noonan Playground — named after a Sunnyside Vietnam War veteran — has finally begun.
“Noonan Playground is an important community hub for our seniors, families and local children,” Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) said at a groundbreaking ceremony on Friday. “This inclusive project is a wonderful example of what we can accomplish when we work together as a community to incorporate the needs of our local residents.”
Van Bramer was joined by Queens Parks Department Commissioner Dorothy Lewandowski, Community Board 2 members, students from IS 125 and PS 199, veterans from VFW Post 2813 and St. Sebastian’s Catholic War Veterans.
The Council member allocated $2 million to redesign and expand the playground as well as build a commemorative monument to Noonan.
“The renovations that begin today will expand the popular playground also known as ‘Rainbow Park,’ introduce new green spaces, make the park safer for young children and forever commemorate the sacrifices our local veterans made for this great nation,” Van Bramer said.
In 2011, the majority leader launched the Noonan Park Community Design Initiative, which yielded community suggestions and input and incorporated them into the renovation project.
“It was a great honor to have been part of the reconstruction of such a prominent part of Sunnyside,” said Alysia Quan, vice president of the student government at IS 125. “Rainbow Park represents my childhood.”
Quan participated in the design initiative while attending PS 199.
The renovation, slated for completion in one year, will add accessible play equipment, separate areas for toddlers and older children, incorporate more swing sets and feature a new “rainbow” spray shower that the park is known for.
Additional planted areas will also be put in place along Greenpoint Avenue and 43rd Street. A new granite slab will be placed at the base of the playground’s flagpole as a monument to Noonan.
The veteran enlisted in the Marine Corps Reserve in December 1967. Six months later he was sent to the Republic of Vietnam, where he served as a mortarman and later as a rifleman in the Third Marine Division. Noon was killed in action in 1969 while attempting to rescue wounded members of his company.
He was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.
“What a great day for Sunnyside as we celebrate the improvements to the Thomas P. Noonan Playground and remember those who served and died in the military during the Vietnam War,” CB 2 Chariman Joe Conley said.
Van Bramer is also working with local veterans and the Parks Department to develop a commemorative plaque for the playground which will include the names of veterans from Sunnyside and Woodside who served in the Armed Forces.