But when Hurricane Sandy hit in October 2012, Sandpiper Playground was destroyed. Seven years later, the area has been resurrected.
Last Friday, government and elected officials marked the end of a $6.9 million project to bring the playground back to life.
“To be here hours after Sandy and see a park in total devastation pained me,” said State Senator Joseph Addabbo. “Rockaway is headed in the right direction and has better days ahead.”
Assemblywoman Stacey Pheffer Amato grew up and raised her children blocks from the park and spoke of its central role in the community. She recalled that in the days after 9/11 and the crash of Flight 587, people would congregate at Sandpiper.
“The park was our solace,” she said.
A few hours later and 40 blocks east, Parks Department officials announced that Almeda Playground in Arverne will be receiving its own $8.1 million makeover.
When it reopens in fall 2020, it will include a renovated playground, adult fitness area, shaded seating, outdoor classroom, and sports courts.
P.S. 42 is located on the same block as the playground, and Principal Patricia Finn noted the need for spaces like this in the community.
“There’s just not enough here for our children to do, but this here is a stepping stone,” she said. “It’s up to the community to keep it going, and all of us to keep this a place where children can be children.”
Councilman Donovan Richards said the park was “the bare minimum” and suffered from a lack of investment for decades.
“The paradigm shift is happening,” he said. “We're seeing more equity and funding, and that's going to enable us to make sure underserved communities like this portion of Arverne will really have the amenities that other communities so rightfully enjoy.”