2015-08-12 / Front Page

Raimonda Playground Renovation Launched

By Thomas Cogan

Illustration of the piano-shaped fountain to be built in Paul Raimonda Playground in Astoria.  The playground is located near the Steinway piano factory and the fountain will reflect this, having replicas of four octaves of keys and the interior metal plate with the company name on it. The piano fountain and the rest of the playground (with the exception of the handball court) are expected to be built and ready for public enjoyment by the summer of 2016.   Illustration of the piano-shaped fountain to be built in Paul Raimonda Playground in Astoria. The playground is located near the Steinway piano factory and the fountain will reflect this, having replicas of four octaves of keys and the interior metal plate with the company name on it. The piano fountain and the rest of the playground (with the exception of the handball court) are expected to be built and ready for public enjoyment by the summer of 2016. To launch the $1.5 million renovation of Paul Raimonda Playground in Astoria on August 4, Queens Commissioner of the Department of Parks Dorothy Lewandowski, City Councilman Costas Constantinides and local officials and activists gathered at the site of the playground, 20th Avenue and 47th Street.  There, they viewed illustrations of how the renovated playground will be laid out and how the spray fountain will look when rebuilt in the shape of a Steinway piano. 

There was of course a golden shovel moment as the commissioner and the councilman were joined in a groundbreaking ceremony by Florence Koulouris, newly-named district manager of Community Board 1; Richard Khuzami of CB 1; Rose Marie Poveromo of United Community Civic Association (UCCA); and Parks Department Architect Adrian Hayes, among others.

The playground was built several decades ago as Steinway Playground, since it is in the vicinity of the Steinway and Sons piano factory.  In 1988, it was renamed for Paul Raimonda, a community activist, whom Poveromo called “a totally committed man,” one that Koulouris was glad to note continues to be remembered as a result of this current project.  Khuzami said renovation of the playground has been a capital project with CB 1 for years, adding that it’s about time it was at last undertaken.

The renovation is a repair job, certainly, but it’s also an update.  The bocce court that has always been a part of the playground is being relegated to history because while bocce may still be played in some other places in the city, there aren’t many enthusiasts left in this neighborhood.  It is being removed while adult fitness equipment is being added and older equipment replaced.  Also, the flagpole base is being repaired, asphalt repaved and new planting beds are being installed.  There is to be a relocation of the seating area so nighttime noise will be less bothersome to the residents around the playground.  Many of the trees currently stand in pits bordered by cobblestones.  After the renovation, they will be surrounded by plant beds containing flowering trees, deciduous and evergreen shrubs and perennials.  The variety of plants is expected to allow spring, summer and fall to display their best colors.

The spray fountain will be in the shape of a baby grand piano in concrete, with four octaves of keys and a representation of the Steinway metal plate placed inside each of the company’s instruments.  There will be a 16-inch seat wall at the edge of the concrete piano.  It will contain two spray outlets, while another two will be in the ground. 

“In an area where open community space is lacking,” Councilman Constantinides said, “the improved grounds will provide a valuable leisure space for our children and our families.”  The renovated Raimonda playground, with the exception of the handball court, which will be renovated separately, is expected to be reopened just a year from now, in the summer of 2016.

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