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Construction Begins on $6 Million Revamp of Dilapidated Flushing Playground

PHOTO: Council Member Sandra Ung paints a bench at Bland Playground during a community cleanup event in May (Photo courtesy of Council member Ung)

Jan. 12, 2023 By Christian Murray

The Parks Dept. has started work on a $6 million overhaul of Bland Playground, a gritty park located in downtown Flushing that residents say is in desperate need of an upgrade.

The playground, located at Prince Street and 40th Road, will be closed until January 2024 as the entire park is being renovated.

“Bland Playground is a popular open space in the heart of downtown Flushing, and I know it will be missed by the community and nearby NYCHA residents while it is closed,” said Council Member Sandra Ung in a statement. “However, all of that use has led to its deterioration over time, and now it is need of a complete makeover.”

The funding for the upgrade was secured in the 2020 budget by former councilmember Peter Koo, the city council, and the Queens Borough President’s office.

Koo said at the time that the park had fallen into disrepair.

“The site has been plagued for years by a variety of problems ranging from sanitation to vagrancy,” Koo said in 2020. “It’s far past time that we address these issues through a redesign and reconstruction that prioritizes the needs of the families and young people who cherish and use this rare urban recreational space.”

The revamp includes new swings and a spray area for children, as well as the reconstruction of the basketball and handball courts. There will also be a new multi-purpose area for activities such as Tai chi. That area will also include game tables and new benches.

The project will also include new play equipment on two separate playgrounds, one designed for 2- to 5-year-olds and another designed for 5- to 12-year-olds, that will be enclosed by new four-foot-high fences with gates.

Bland Playground opened to the public in the 1950s and is named in honor of James A. Bland, the famed African American folk singer and Flushing native who wrote “Carry Me Back to Old Virginny” that was the official state song of Virginia from 1940 to 1997.

The playground is located next to the Bland Houses NYCHA development, which is also named after the singer.

Rendering courtesy of Parks Department.

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James Lin

I would like to bring attention to a sorely neglected park that is in need of renovations. In light of all the surrounding parks in the area receiving much needed funds, and well deserved… please make note that Memorial Fields of Flushing Basketball courts has cracks and divots that makes it very dangerous for the many who call it home.. The annual tournaments that we host there were cancelled in 2022 in no small part to the fact that the court is dangerous and in need of repair. I have lived in Flushing for 40 years now and have balled at this park for the same amount of time.. religiously! I remember when they re-paved the court last… in the 90s!! PARKS DEPARTMENT! It’s time! And this time, please take out the dangerous poles that hold up the backboard and rim.. most Parks have the backboard hanging from the fences to remove this hazardous situation. If doubt that this is a popular park worthy of heavily scrutinized dollars available for renovation, please visit this park on any nice summer day at about 6:30 pm and you will see a steady stream of full court run .. and people occasionally cursing the cracks on the court that made the ball go out of bounds, or worse injuring weekend warriors of all ages with turned ankles and torn ACLs. Why don’t we go to another Park where the courts have been freshly redone? Well its about community. Several of the Park regulars have been coming to the same courts for just as long as I have.. 30-40 years to establish and maintain the ties to the community through basketball and feel a necessity to pass on the same values and wisdom to the next generation.. In our community. Now other areas of the Park have received monies to renovate the playground, softball fields, Track and Football stadium, but we are asking for the same love for the basketball court, which has not been touched for 30 years. Please don’t forget us at Memorial Fields of Flushing (149th street). Thank you. – The Mayor of Memorial Park


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