Friday, November 11, 2011

Fearing Predators, Church Pushes City To Change Park To Playground

The 2.6 acre Marie Curie Park located on 46 Ave., 46 Rd. Bet. Oceania St. and 211 St. in Bayside Queens contains a pool, handball and basketball courts, and a children's playground. A local pastor is hoping to prohibit the general public from the park - other than children - by having its official name changed to a playground.


An encounter last year between a scantily dressed man, and kids playing in Marie Curie Park has spooked one Bayside pastor enough for him to want to keep many adults out, according to Bayside Patch.

Reverend Phillip Kim of Korean Presbyterian in Bayside recently filed a petition with the city asking to have the name of Marie Curie Park to "Marie Curie Playground," a move he says will make the area safer for the children who play there.

The park is used by children from the church, because they are located on opposing sides of the same street.

"It's my understanding that under the current situation, because it is a park, the area is open to the general public," Kim said.

But Kim would like to see the city officially name this public space a playground, which he said would make it subject to a stricter set of regulations, prohibiting any adults unaccompanied by children from entering.

"It's a problem because we've notice adults engaging in questionable behaviors in front of the children," Kim said.

The main incident described by Kim was that of a middle aged male, wearing shorts and a tank top— what he called "improper attire”— while playing with children in the park’s sprinkler system this past summer.

"Technically, the man wasn't doing anything illegal because he's in a park. We'd like to see it where only parents with children can use the facilities though," Kim said.

Other concerns for Kim include groups of young adolescents-adults who he said currently use the park as a meeting ground.

"Some have even brought in dangerous animals like pit bulls into the park, which poses a serious safety concern for parents of small children. Still, as long as it's a park they're allowed to enter," Kim said.

But getting the whole of Marie Curie Park declared a playground might not be as clear cut or as easy as it might sound.

"It's too early to comment on this specific case, however declaring a park, a playground, is generally not something Parks would do. We try to encourage everyone to enjoy these public spaces," said Zachary Feder of the New York City Parks Department.

Even so, for some of the parents who bring their kids to Marie Curie Park, having the entire thing dedicated a playground doesn't sound like a bad idea.

"There have definitely been times when I've come here and there's been an element that seems out of place around the children," said Cathy Rodriguez, a mother of two, who lives just a few blocks from Marie Curie Park and uses it often.

Reverend Kim is hopeful that the city will consider his request to turn 'Marie Curie Park' into 'Marie Curie Playground.'

"When you look at the 'park,' it's obviously a playground for the school it's attached to and we feel it should be officially made such," Kim said.

To see the official NYC Parks rules and guidelines click here.

Additional reporting by Lori Gross.

Read More:

Bayside Patch - November 10, 2011- By Patrick Conti

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