Jackson Heights Play Street Forced To Close Early By Private School
A Jackson Heights play street was prematurely closed, after Garden School, a private school requested it - leaving locals appealing to the state to re-open the safe space. The community has been lobbying for more park space in the neighborhood for years. The play street was supposed to remain open until September 30th. (see poster below)
The play street, where children ride bicycles and concerts are held, had been slated to run from July through September. The road cuts between the Garden School and Travers Park.
A Garden School official said closing 78th St. to vehicles posed a safety risk for preschoolers and kindergartners who are dropped off and picked up there.
"Having that street being closed to all traffic creates different issues," said Arthur Gruen, president of the board of trustees for the preschool through 12th-grade school. "It would create traffic problems on the street."
The road will revert back to a vehicle-free play street on Friday nights and weekends, a Transportation Department official said.
But that wasn't good enough for local leaders, who have been lobbying for more park space in the neighborhood for years.
"We are working closely with the Garden School and the Department of Transportation to come up with a solution that is acceptable to all," City Councilman Daniel Dromm (D-Jackson Heights) said.
This isn't the first time the private school has come under fire on the issue of open space.
Garden has taken heat from community leaders and residents who would like the school to sell its yard to the city for parkland - a process that could take longer and be less lucrative than accepting an offer from a developer.