Parent criticizes DOE over playground plan

One being built at PS 221 won’t be open in summer or on weekends, she said

The city isn’t doing right by Little Neck residents with the playground under construction at PS 221, a mother told Community Board 11 on Monday.

Adriana Aviles, who is the president of Community Education Council 26 and has two children attending the school, said she heard from its principal that the city Department of Education only had the funding to keep the playground open until 5:30 or 6 p.m. on weekdays during the school year.

“The question is: What about the summer? What about the weekend?” she said. “As a community resident, my children will not be able to enjoy the promised playground to our community that was promised by the DOE and New York City.”

Ground was broken earlier this year on the playground. It’s expected to open by Thanksgiving.

Aviles also brought up a program launched by the Bloomberg administration called Schoolyards to Playgrounds. It sought to provide all New Yorkers with a park or playground within a 10-minute walk from their home, and construct playgrounds that stay open on weekends and in the summer.

“We cannot let this happen to our community,” she said.

The city Department of Education did not answer a Chronicle inquiry about the playground before deadline.

The PS 221 playground wasn’t the only Little Neck concern brought up at CB 11 on Monday.

During the public participation section of the meeting, neighborhood resident Roberta Lawrence spoke about the two “neglected” green spaces at the northwest side of Little Neck Parkway’s intersection with the Horace Harding Expressway. She suggested that they be improved into a space that the seniors who live at the nearby Brandywine Living at the Savoy residence could enjoy.

Community Board 11 Chairwoman Eileen Miller said her panel would further explore the idea. “We can put it on the agenda and we will discuss it at our next meeting,” she said.

In other matters, the board voted to unanimously approved a land use application for a martial arts center at 45-58 Bell Blvd. in Bayside.

CB 11 members also heard 111th Precinct Community Affairs Officer John Erdman discuss ways to avoid being a victim of theft, and they debated a proposal to make the cost of an intra-city Long Island Rail Road trip $2.75, the cost of a MetroCard swipe [See separate story in some editions or online at qchron.com.]

After the meeting, board members enjoyed coffee and cake to celebrate Bernie Haber’s having spent 50 years on the panel.