2016-12-21 / Front Page

Renovations Underway At ‘Sean’s Place’

By Liz Goff
Construction crews recently kicked off a nearly $1 million reconstruction project at Sean’s Place, a city playground in Astoria dedicated to fallen NYPD Officer Sean Mc Donald, who was shot and killed in the line of duty in 1994.

The children’s playground, on 38th Street between 31st Avenue and Broadway, is undergoing a facelift that will include the installation of new play equipment, spray showers, new fencing, benches and plantings, a spokesperson for the city Department of Parks and Recreation said.

When completed, the playground will boast new play areas for toddlers and young children – including new swings and seating for parents, redesigned and repaved basketball courts, a handball court, and new plantings around a fenced-in plaque in McDonald’s memory installed in the playground at a 1995 dedication ceremony.

McDonald grew up on nearby 36th Street, attended the Most Precious Blood Elementary School and played on the school softball team. His father, John McDonald, was well known in the neighborhood and remained in the family home for more than a decade following Sean’s murder.

Mayor Bill deBlasio and Queens Borough President Melinda Katz secured $970,000 in funding required for the much-needed renovations. The construction is slated for completion in September 2017, a Parks Department spokesperson said. The playground will remain closed until completion of the capital project.

City Councilmember Costa Constantinides took matters into his own hands in April, to provide security for the playground that was being overrun at night by teenagers who left broken wine, liquor and beer bottles, used condoms and other items strewn among the swings and slides.

Local residents called on Constantinides for help when the city Department of Parks failed to lock the playground at the city’s mandated 9 p.m. curfew. Parents of young children told the Astoria lawmaker they were greeted each morning by trash and other items the teens left behind.

Officials at the 114th Precinct ramped up enforcement at Sean’s Place each night in an effort to keep the teens from using the playground as a hangout. The cops handed out numerous summonses to violators and ordered the teens out of the park after the 9 p.m. curfew, authorities said.

At Constantinides’ urging, the Parks Department started locking and unlocking the playground gates on a daily basis, while officers at the 114th Precinct continued to patrol outside the playground overnight.

“The reconstruction project at Sean’s Place will bring benefits to families who use the playground and to the surrounding neighborhood,” Constantinides said. “The new play equipment and spray showers will improve the neighborhood’s amenities. The renovations will also serve as an honor to the playground’s namesake, Officer Sean McDonald, who served his community with dedication and sadly made the ultimate sacrifice.

“Sean’s Place will continue to provide integral green space for families in western Queens to enjoy,” Constantinides said. “I look forward to working with the Parks Department as this project continues to ensure an on-time completion.”





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