Public school youngsters from nearby P.S. 49 swarmed Juniper Valley South Playground minutes before it was officially opened to the public by officials at an April 19th ribbon cutting ceremony keynoted by Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe.
The $966,000 ADA-accessible playground features jungle gyms, swings, and a spray shower with a lily pad design and a frog-shaped fountain. It is located on the south side of the park where Juniper Boulevard South meets 75th Street, and was paid for through funding from the mayor's office and the City Council.
Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley said the reconstructed playground won't be the last addition to the park - future plans include improving the bocce, tennis, and handball courts.
“It's a park that we'll continue to invest in,” said Crowley, who played in Juniper Valley Park as a child and later worked there as a seasonal aide in high school and college.
Benepe said the playground's wetlands-inspired design pays homage to the area's history as a swamp, before it was filled in to create the present-day parkland in 1915. Sticking with that theme, and noting the colorful frog fountain, Benepe delighted the school-aged children in the audience with a half-dozen well-received frog and toad jokes.
(A sampling: “What's a frog's favorite music? Hip-Hop.” And one aimed for parking-ticket besieged parents: “What happened to the frog's car when its parking meter expired? It got toad.”)
Speaking afterwards Benepe said the nearly $1 million improvement at Juniper Valley Park represents just a small sliver of the overall money spent on parks in Queens since Mayor Michael Bloomberg took office.
Since 2002, Benepe said, the city has spent $258 million on parks projects in Queens. Another $200 million worth of park work is either already in construction or is being designed, he said. “Most of that work will be done in the next three to four years,” he added.