NEW YORK STATE ASSEMBLY OFFICE OF ASSEMBLYMEMBER ARAVELLA SIMOTAS For Immediate Release October 19, 2013 Contact: Jim

McFadden, 718-545-3889

Simotas, Gianaris, Community Work to Clean Up Astoria Heights Playground
Volunteer corps spearheads effort to keep playground family friendly
Astoria, N.Y.— On Saturday, Assemblymember Aravella Simotas, Senator Michael Gianaris and the Friends of Astoria Heights Playground led a volunteer effort to clean up Astoria Heights Park. The event was part of “It's My Park Day,” a citywide initiative, presented by Partnerships for Parks, which works with hundreds of community parks groups to lead clean-up events in neighborhood parks across the city. Over 75 volunteers of all ages joined elected officials to improve our public space. “We have been hearing lots of concerns from neighborhood residents who are upset with the recent state of Astoria Heights Playground,” Simotas said. “Today’s efforts are part of our ongoing commitment to keeping Astoria’s public parks beautiful and safe for our community’s families.” Simotas met with concerned parents to discuss sustainable solutions for keeping the park clean and crime-free moving forward. After learning of the parents’ concerns, Simotas sent a letter to the Department of Parks and Recreation to urge them to expedite projects planned to enhance the safety and usability of Astoria Heights Playground. Lynn Kennedy, a local resident and organizer of Friends of Astoria Heights Playground explained the issues users of the playground experience. "Parents demand that repairs be made-- sooner than 2015-- to make this park safer. Specifically, erosion control, a need for gates, buckling mats, and sustained staffing are necessary. Health parks make for healthy communities, and the huge turnout we saw at this event makes it clear how important this space is." “Filth like broken beer bottles and drugs has no place in our neighborhood, least of all where children come to play," Senator Gianaris said. "I thank all the parents who took it upon themselves to organize this cleanup and make our community a better place to live. I look forward to continuing our work to keep Astoria safe and beautiful.”

"I was excited to participate in the Astoria Heights Playground cleanup," said Democratic Nominee for City Council Costa Constantinides. "Seeing everyone work together to beautify the park showed us how important it is to preserve and expand our green spaces in Astoria. I commend the Friends of Astoria Heights Park and Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas for leading this effort and look forward to working together while in the City Council." “The improvements we accomplished today by working together with parents, children and volunteers of all ages proves how a united community can preserve and protect of public space,” Simotas said. ###