A Rose That Grew From Concrete

New playground opens at Goldie Maple Academy
By Daniel Offner

The once vacant lot adjacent to the Goldie Maple Academy (PS/MS 333) on Beach 54th Street has been transformed into a brand new facility that will serve dozens of local school children with adequate space and activities for years to come.

After nearly two years of construction, the $3.2 million renovation of the track, courts and playground at the Goldie Maple Academy is officially open.

This story originally appeared in the Aug. 12, 2016 edition of The Wave Newspaper.

On Aug. 4, NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver joinedQueens Parks Commissioner Dorothy Lewandowski, state Sen. James Sanders Jr., NYC Councilman Donovan Richards, and members of the community to cut the ribbon on the new and improved Benjamin N. Cardozo Playground—a jointly operated park managed by NYC Parks and the Department of Education.

 Students at Goldie Maple Academy enjoy the newly renovated Cardozo playground. Photo By Daniel Offner

Students at Goldie Maple Academy enjoy the newly renovated Cardozo playground. Photo By Daniel Offner

“Being active and involved in sports helps kids to focus, learn team working skills, and stay healthy,” Silver said, in a press release. “Cardozo Playground has been transformed into an ideal space for students to play and exercise during the school day, with a new track, volleyball and tennis courts, chess tables, and painted games like hop scotch and skully.”

 NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver at the opening of Cardozo Playground. Photos By Daniel Offner

NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver at the opening of Cardozo Playground. Photos By Daniel Offner.

Plans for the playground have been in the works for more than 12 years—ever since Goldie Maple Principal Angela Logan-Smith first approached then-Councilman Sanders with the idea.

“I remember a time when this was a barren space. It was in such a bad state that the teachers were using it to park their cars. There was no real place for the children to play or exercise and enjoy themselves,” Sanders said.

“Now, we have a place in a community, which is rated among the most obese, that will serve as an oasis of recreation and physical fitness.”

 Students test out the park’s brand new jungle gym and playground equipment.

Students test out the park’s brand new jungle gym and playground equipment.

Renovations included the removal and replacement of playground equipment, 29 new benches, fences, basketball hoops, game tables and adult fitness equipment. It also includes a new four-lane running track, with an asphalt infield, where kids can play tennis or volleyball. The park was completed with safety surfacing, new planting areas for some greenery, and two new drinking fountains.

Unfortunately, Logan-Smith was not able to attend the ribbon cutting ceremony, so Assistant Principal Randi Gold spoke on her behalf. “On behalf of the scholars and myself, we are so grateful for this beautiful playground,” Gold said. “We want to thank the elected officials, city representatives, the School Construction Authority, the Parks Department and the DOE for turning this vision into a reality.”

“These communities now have a park to be proud of and to appreciate,” said Councilman Donovan Richards, who helped champion the two year construction effort, to provide adequate space for the students of Goldie Maple and the surrounding neighborhood.

“This is what we would call a ‘rose that grew from concrete.’ That’s what this playground symbolizes,” Richards said during the ribbon cutting. “Just because residents from public housing are in the community, just because we live in the densest and maybe the poorest part of the Rockaways, doesn’t mean that we don’t deserve the same amenities that other places in this city have and deserve.”

According to Silver, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio and NYC Parks have also dedicated close to $300 million to help transform underserved parks in communities throughout the outer boroughs and northernManhattan.

“In the end we’ll transform close to 134 parks,” Silver said, “because we believe that every community, in every borough throughout the city, deserves a quality space and we’re very delighted at every ribbon cutting, that we’re providing that important equity to communities in need.”

Following the ribbon-cutting, students took turns testing out the new equipment.

“This is about the rebirth of a community that has been neglected for far too long,” Richards said. “So now when our residents look out the window, they have something to be proud of. When our children walk outside the doors they don’t have to be limited to one piece of playground equipment. They now have a Metropolis of a park.”

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