In 2016, officials announced funding for the project. Last Friday, ground was broken on the project at 248-05 86th Avenue.
Principal Nicole Colon said her students ask her almost everyday about the playground and schoolyard’s status. Her student council, who attended the groundbreaking ceremony, has already listed the project on their agenda for their upcoming meeting.
“It means a lot to our children and it means a lot to us,” Colon said.
Former Councilman Mark Weprin allocated $800,000 for the renovations, and current Councilman Barry Grodenchik worked with Borough President Melinda Katz to secure an additional $4.4 million for the project.
“It’s humbling to be here,” said Wepring. “You get to plant seeds, but you don’t often get to see the garden grow.”
For Grodenchik, the groundbreaking was “a great day for the people in eastern Queens.”
“It started for me with a knock on the door,” Grodenchik said, recalling his days campaigning for office. “I ended up knocking on the door of Lourdes Villanueva Hartrick, who told me all about this playground, which needed some help.”
When he took office in 2016, the Bellerose Commonwealth Civic challenged Grodenchik to bring the project to fruition.
Villanueva Hartrick, whose children attended PS 133, has been a persistent advocate for renovating the playground and schoolyard.
“We worked really hard by writing letters, making phone calls, and asking the council member every time I bumped into him,” Villanueva Hartrick said. “This is going to be something that our kids and our community can enjoy for many years to come.
“I want to have another baby so I can come play here,” she joked.
Katz commended Villanueva Hartrick for not giving up.
“Civic leaders remind us of the responsibilities they feel we should be fulfilling in the community, because sometimes things can get lost,” Katz said. “This is the perfect example of a community standing up, fighting and never forgetting that they need the park to be first-class for their students.”
Renovations at the schoolyard and playground will include spray showers, track and basketball courts, swings, multiple hopscotch courts and designated areas for yard games.
“Projects like this are what we love to do, but we can’t really do them on our own,” said School Construction Authority president Lorraine Grillo. “The SCA is really excited to get started on this project.”