Thursday, September 15, 2011

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)


A play street that a park-starved Jackson Heights community fought long and hard to open up to the neighborhood this summer has come to a premature end, according to the New York Daily News.

The city reopened the stretch of 78th St. between 34th Ave. and Northern Blvd. to traffic unexpectedly last week at the request of a private school that borders the temporary open space.

The move left elected officials and community leaders scrambling to come up with a solution.

"I'm sorely disappointed," said Donovan Finn, a board member of the Jackson Heights Green Alliance, which oversees the play street. "This is a very popular community initiative."

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.

Read More:

New York Daily News - September 14, 2011 - By Clare Trapasso

Jackson Hts. OKs push to turn street into 24-hour play space
New York Daily News - May 24th 2010 - By Clare Trapasso

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