Walter Ward Playground
Walter Ward (1911-1994) was a member of the New York City Council for a quarter of a century, serving 13 terms from 1968 until 1993. Ward, who took courses at the Dale Carnegie Institute, was the owner of the Ward Advertising Company, which specialized in outdoor signs. Ward sold the business in 1971 to devote himself solely to representing the 32nd Legislative District, which incorporated Broad Channel, Howard Beach, Ozone Park, South Ozone Park, and the Rockaways. Towards the end of his tenure, Ward was the oldest member of the legislative body, and had earned the unofficial title “Dean of the Council.”
Throughout his 25 years in office, Ward worked ardently for clean beaches and against airplane noise, issues at the heart of his constituency near the coast and around John F. Kennedy International Airport. Ward became chairman of the City Council Committee of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs, as well as a member of the Council’s General Welfare Committee. Ward also cast one of the deciding electoral votes for President John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) after being named a Democratic elector for New York State in the 1960 presidential election. Ward continued to be involved in Democratic politics until his death, serving as Democratic District Leader in Queens after being defeated in the 1993 City Council election.
In addition to his political activities, Ward served on various community boards and organizations, such as the 101st Precinct Community and Youth Council, the Ozone Howard Little League, and the Wyckoff Heights Hospital Advisory Board. Ward died on November 8, 1994, at the age of 83.
The City acquired this land for the construction of Public School 207 in 1961, and Parks and the Board of Education have jointly operated the site ever since. It opened as P.S. 207 Playground on February 2, 1967. Its name was changed to Rockwood Playground in 1985. A local law passed by the City Council renamed it in Ward’s honor in 1995. The park contains three full basketball courts, two handball courts, play equipment, and a shaded sitting area. In 1996, Mayor Giuliani funded a $96,000 renovation of the playground, which provided new play equipment and safety surfacing.