Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Walter Ward Playground Gets 1 7M Makeover by Stephen Geffon -Leader-Observer

Read original...

A $1.7 million renovation of the 42-year-old Walter Ward Playground in Howard Beach has been completed.

Funding for the playground revamp was secured in June of 2007 by then-Councilman Joseph Addabbo after Nina DeBlasio, parent coordinator for P.S./M.S. 207, which adjoins the playground, brought to his attention parents’ concerns about the condition of the aging facility.

The new playground, located at 89th Street and 160th Avenue, has tot swings, a play unit for children 2 to 5 years old, two separate units for children 5 to 12 years old, and a spray shower. The Parks Department also renovated the handball courts and added new fencing, benches, game tables, lighting, and drinking fountains.

The playground, which unofficially opened to the public in August, had its official ribbon-cutting ceremony on October 22 with State Senator Joseph Addabbo and Councilman Eric Ulrich, as well as members of the Annecco family.

Four years ago, two-year-old Jolie Skye Annecco drowned in her family’s backyard pool. Her family was devastated by the tragedy, and her mother, Penny, who noted that Jolie always loved to run around the park, wanted to do something in her memory and contacted DeBlasio about renovating the playground.

DeBlasio said it would be wonderful if somehow Jolie would always have a place in the park. A tree was planted in the playground with a plaque donated by the Parent’s Association to honor the memory of Jolie Skye Annecco.

“I’ve lived here all my life and never had such a beautiful park, it’s amazing.” said DeBlasio.

“We really needed something for our children,” said P.S. 207 Parent Association president Mary Gallagher. “It looks great, it’s colorful, it’s beautiful. We’re really happy with it.”