Water’s Edge Drive will look very different within the next few years.
Funding for a new 1.5-acre playground on the corner of the drive and 24th Avenue was secured in the 2022 budget, City Councilmember Paul Vallone (D-Bayside) announced July 1.
Early concepts for the $20 million project include a parking lot, children’s play area, comfort station, security lighting, walking paths, basketball courts and adult fitness equipment. A scoping meeting will be held before a final design is decided.
“This investment into Bayside’s greenspaces will provide Queens residents and visitors with even more high-quality open space for recreation and fitness,” said Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver.
The site was chosen because it lies directly across Waters Edge Drive from the proposed 572-seat elementary school. Community leaders have raised concerns that there isn’t sufficient parking or adequate traffic flow to accommodate a new school. Those worries, amongst others, led Community Board 7 to reject the School Construction Authority’s plans June 28, though the plan could still move forward.
Because the proposal is undergoing public review, there are no designs for the building yet. If it comes to fruition, in spite of CB 7’s rejection, the SCA expects the school to be operational in five years.
Discussions on how the playground’s parking lot could alleviate those concerns are ongoing, and Vallone is advocating for its use by the school, the councilmember’s office told the Chronicle. The decision will be finalized between the Parks and Education departments.
“The location was also chosen because a new school should have a playground,” Vallone’s spokesperson said.
The plot of land has been owned by the city Parks Department since 1943, but has been largely left vacant. In the past, it was used as a parking lot for the Bay Terrace County Club, which lies at the end of 24th Avenue.
The site is less than half a mile away from the Bay Terrace Playground, at 23rd Avenue and Bell Boulevard. The 59-year-old playground features two handball courts, a basketball court, a concrete porpoise sculpture, a spray shower, a comfort station, benches and game tables, swings, two play units and a flagpole with a yardarm, but hasn’t been majorly renovated since 1985.
The project is one of several Vallone announced he secured funding for. In all, $71 million of the city Parks budget will go toward improving northeast green spaces.
An existing baseball field at the College Point Fields will be converted into a soccer field, while the synthetic soccer fields at Raymond O’Connor Park in Bayside will be renovated. New pathways will also be built at O’Connor on the outskirts of the field.
Additionally, MS 379, or the College Point Collaborative school, is getting $700,000 to upgrade its playground.
“I have fought hard to make sure that Northeast Queens was not ignored and given our fair share and recognition that it deserves as a part of this great city,” Vallone said in a statement.