2018-08-29 / Front Page

Van Bramer Announces City Funding Secured For Noonan Playground

By Thomas Cogan

Several Sunnyside neighbors stand with City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer in Noonan Playground, where he announced that a further $2.5 million was available in the city budget for completion of park renovations and redesign that have been going on since 2015.  Among them is (left) Jaime Faye-Bean, director of Sunnyside Shines, covering the business investment district (BID); Brooke Barr (third from left), principal of  P.S. 343, the Children’s Lab School; and (right of Van Bramer) Sheila Lewandowsky, a vice president of Community Board 2.Several Sunnyside neighbors stand with City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer in Noonan Playground, where he announced that a further $2.5 million was available in the city budget for completion of park renovations and redesign that have been going on since 2015. Among them is (left) Jaime Faye-Bean, director of Sunnyside Shines, covering the business investment district (BID); Brooke Barr (third from left), principal of P.S. 343, the Children’s Lab School; and (right of Van Bramer) Sheila Lewandowsky, a vice president of Community Board 2.On August 21, Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer held a meeting at Noonan Playground in Sunnyside to announce that he has been able to secure $2.5 million in city funds in the June budget that will be used to complete renovations on the playground that were begun in 2015.  It was called “incredibly important” by Van Bramer as a park and playground, especially for children.  He pointed out that it was one of the few public parks in the Sunnyside area.  Noonan Playground is named for Woodside resident Lance Corporal Thomas P. Noonan Jr., a Marine killed in Vietnam in 1969 and awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor posthumously. 

The $2.5 million is called Phase III of the project to refurbish and improve Noonan, the first two phases having been rendered in 2015 and 2016.  The playground is bounded by 42nd and 43rd Streets and 47th and Greenpoint Avenues.  The earlier phases had repaired the basketball and handball facilities and some of the children’s play area.  The current phase will start from a point on the Greenpoint Avenue side, about halfway between 43rd and 42nd Streets and transform a somewhat grim blacktop area (where the councilman’s press conference was held) into something a bit greener and more child-friendly.  Most important, it will fence in the 42nd Street entrance/exit, which unlike the other sides of Noonan is not fully enclosed.  That way, as Van Bramer said, small kids in the park will not put themselves in danger of walking into street traffic if they should wander toward 42nd.

Van Bramer said that the specifics of building fencing at 42nd Street and the design of children’s play areas will be topics of public input.  A suggestion box will be placed in the Queens Public Library branch at 43rd Street on the south side of Greenpoint Avenue and it’s likely an active neighborhood will stuff it with suggestions and opinions.  (Some of them might have something to say about what Van Bramer called Phase IV, the redesign of the men’s and women’s comfort stations.)  He asked rhetorically, “If you had $2.5 million to improve this park, what would you do?”  He’s bound to get some answers.

He called some of the assembled local figures forth to say something.  Sheila Lewandowski, first vice president of Community Board 2 said it was good to be there representing the board.  She said the additional fencing was needed for a “safe and healthy” atmosphere in the playground.  Jaime Faye-Bean, head of Sunnyside Shines, the local business improvement district or BID, called the $2.5 million for playground repairs “another measure” of community improvement.  Brooke Barr, principal of P.S. 343, the Children’s Lab School on 45-45 42nd Street between Queens Boulevard and 47th Avenue, praised the park project.  She said she has brought up one son locally and now has more than 300 other children to watch over.

Van Bramer said Noonan Playground is also known among the kids as Rainbow Park, referring to the colorful water-spraying equipment.  He said that when he was a first-year councilmember he was speaking to a class of first graders at P.S.199 and asked them if there was anything he could do for them.  “Make Rainbow Park better,” said one girl.  First, he had to find out what Rainbow Park was.  He saw that by any name it had become shabby, so he worked to improve it.  A total of $4.7 million has since been invested and Rainbow Park is better; and by the time the last phases have been completed should be better still.  

But even now, Van Bramer said, Noonan Playground is “a park to be proud of."

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