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Jamaica Bay and the Rockaways

The Daily Plant : Tuesday, April 20, 2004


On Friday, April 16, with the sun in the sky and warmth in the air, Parks & Recreation and the community of Broad Channel celebrated the re-opening of Gene Gray Playground. The playground was recently renovated for this small neighborhood situated between mainland Queens and Rockaway. On the day of the opening, fourth-graders from P.S. 47 patiently listened to speakers before trying out the new playground.

Parks & Recreation Commissioner Adrian Benepe was joined by a number of community members to cut the ribbon on the playground, including Council Member Joseph Addabbo Jr., who allocated $850,000 for the project. Also on hand were Queens Director of Community Relations for the Mayor's Community Assistance Unit Joanne Ariola; Community Board 14 District Manager Jonathan Gaska; Gene Gray’s son, Gregory Gray; Assembly Member Audrey Pfeffer; Queens Parks Borough Commissioner Richard Murphy; and Parks & Recreation Assistant Commissioner for Capital Projects Nancy Barthold.

"Before his death in 1973, Gene Gray campaigned for the construction of this site," said Commissioner Benepe. "It was finally constructed in 1987 and named for Gray in honor of his tireless efforts on behalf of area youth. By updating and maintaining this site, we are better serving Broad Channel’s children and honoring Gray’s legacy."

Gene Gray Playground has been refurbished with new, brightly-colored play equipment in the shape of a boat, in recognition of Broad Channel’s connection to the sea. There is also a new spray shower in the shape of a rainbow and swings for older children and toddlers. Benches, landscaping, and new exterior fencing have also been installed.

Gene Gray Playground opened in 1987 and is located on Broad Channel. It is named after Eugene Gray (1927-1973), a community activist who was involved in a variety of local activities, including the Broad Channel Athletic Club. Through the Broad Channel Athletic Club, he helped expand the Broad Channel football league, bringing new sports opportunities to local kids. He also assisted in the creation of the local Teen Club, which provided kids with safe places to play after school and on the weekends. The creation of this playground was one of Gene Gray’s last pieces of youth advocacy.

Written by Margaret Johnson


"It is the child in man that is the source of his uniqueness and
creativeness, and the playground is the optimal milieu for
the unfolding of his capacities and talents."

Eric Hoffer
Reflections on the Human Condition
, 1973

Directions to Jamaica Bay and the Rockaways

Know Before You Go

PlaygroundsSeba Playground

Seba Playground will be closed to reconstruct the current Seba Tot Lot into a playground for children of all ages. The new design will enlarge the toddler area by adding a custom spray shower, seating, and two new tot play units. Additional play spaces will also be added for 5 to 12 year olds, and will include a large accessible play unit, a second spray shower and seating area. These two play areas will be joined by 15 additional swings for both age groups. The site will also feature an accessible drinking fountain, attractive plantings, and a bicycle rack.

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