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8 Coleman Square, Howard Beach, NY 11414

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Happy Birthday:

Playground Cleanup Marks 1st Birthday

Thursday, April 11, 2002 - page 6

This month marks the one-year anniversary of the building and grand opening of the Hamilton Beach Park Playground; a playground bought and built by volunteers from the community. S.T.A.R.S. played an instrumental roll in the build, as it applied for and won two grants that paid for a large portion of the equipment, and they organized the construction. The park was the first of its kind in New York. "S.T.A.R.S. would like to continue to improve the playground and to celebrate the community's accomplishments by planning several events," Frances O. Scarantino, President/Founder of S.T.A.R.S.

The first event took place this past Sunday, April 7th, 2002 from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., which was a clean-up focussing on the playground, but also including the rest of the park property. The cleanup included removal of shells from the basketball courts and playground area, removal of trash and litter from the area and removal of graffiti from the playground equipment. Removal of graffiti from and handball courts and replacing pieces of playground equipment is planned for the near future.

Approximately 25 people from the community, including organizer of the event, Scarantino, and the "crew" from S.T.A.R.S., City Council Member Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr., and Frank Dardani, President of the Ozone Tudor Civic Association, were all equipped with brooms, rakes and graffiti removal supplies to beautify the park. Fifteen bags of garbage were collected and all of the graffiti from the playground was removed.

"The cleanup was successful; we got the job done," stated Scarantino, "however, it would had been nice to get some cooperation from Gateway". Scarantino explained, "Gateway could have provided some of the supplies, such as the rakes, brooms, and garbage bags that our federal tax dollars pay for, but instead, they didn't even reply to a letter we (S.T.A.R.S.) sent asking for permission to do the clean-up".

The second phase of the plan includes a celebratory event. Since it is a playground utilized by children, S.T.A.R.S. thought it would be fitting to hold a "First Birthday Party" for the playground. The event would include the customary birthday festivities such as games, food, and music for the children of the neighborhood.

To kick off the affair, a mural painting on the asphalt ground is being planned. The reason is two-fold. Because it is a large black space adjacent to Jamaica Bay, sea gulls fly over dropping shells on the surface. This leaves an abundance of broken shells in the playground area that constantly needs to be cleaned. Understanding Gateway's limitations on personnel to clean the area, S.T.A.R.S. has looked at alternate solutions; one being to paint the surface multi-colors to confuse the sea gulls.

The second reason for the mural is as follows. The mural in question will be a large circle with words "Our hands helped build this playground" outside the circle. Inside the circle would be the painted handprints of all those that assisted in the construction in someway, either by organizing, planning, fundraising, or participating in the actual construction, including children and adult residents of the area. This would be a constant reminder of how the community came together for this common goal and that this playground is not just another piece of equipment but a part of the community. When completed, the mural will look similar to a globe of many colors.

The event was originally scheduled for Sunday, April 14th, 2002 at 2:30 p.m., however, S.T.A.R.S. is still waiting for the permission by Gateway to follow through with the plans outlined above. "Once I get a response from Gateway, then there will be announcement of the party and that it would include," said Scarantino, "hopefully it will be soon".

Click on a headline to read the article: Yellow Star

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