Jan. 12, 2023 By Christian Murray
The Parks Dept. has started work on a $6 million overhaul of Bland Playground, a gritty park located in downtown Flushing that residents say is in desperate need of an upgrade.
The playground, located at Prince Street and 40th Road, will be closed until January 2024 as the entire park is being renovated.
“Bland Playground is a popular open space in the heart of downtown Flushing, and I know it will be missed by the community and nearby NYCHA residents while it is closed,” said Council Member Sandra Ung in a statement. “However, all of that use has led to its deterioration over time, and now it is need of a complete makeover.”
The funding for the upgrade was secured in the 2020 budget by former councilmember Peter Koo, the city council, and the Queens Borough President’s office.
Koo said at the time that the park had fallen into disrepair.
“The site has been plagued for years by a variety of problems ranging from sanitation to vagrancy,” Koo said in 2020. “It’s far past time that we address these issues through a redesign and reconstruction that prioritizes the needs of the families and young people who cherish and use this rare urban recreational space.”
The revamp includes new swings and a spray area for children, as well as the reconstruction of the basketball and handball courts. There will also be a new multi-purpose area for activities such as Tai chi. That area will also include game tables and new benches.
The project will also include new play equipment on two separate playgrounds, one designed for 2- to 5-year-olds and another designed for 5- to 12-year-olds, that will be enclosed by new four-foot-high fences with gates.
Bland Playground opened to the public in the 1950s and is named in honor of James A. Bland, the famed African American folk singer and Flushing native who wrote “Carry Me Back to Old Virginny” that was the official state song of Virginia from 1940 to 1997.
The playground is located next to the Bland Houses NYCHA development, which is also named after the singer.