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Grand opening held for PS 33’s playground

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The new $1 million playground at PS 33 in Queens Village has everything a kid could want — a slide, spider-web jungle gym and a full track — and perhaps that is because it was designed by kids.

The playground, which officially opened in November but had the ribbon-cutting ceremony May 25 because organizers of the event wanted to wait for warmer weather, is the result of a private-public partnership between the city, Met Life, The Starr Foundation and The Trust for Public Land.

Children at PS 33, at 91-37 222nd Place, were the designers of the playground, which features their artwork on the grounds of the space.

City Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott, who helped cut the ribbon on the playground, called it a “masterpiece.”

“Without the students, this would not have been possible,” Walcott said.

The playground is part of Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s schoolyards to playgrounds initiative — part of his 2030 plan for sustainability.

“When we open up our yards ... it’s an important bridge between our schools and our communities that we’re making sure we’re partnering with each other,” Walcott said.

The city allocated $666,000 for the playground while private sources provided the remaining $333,000.

Erich Wagner, principal of PS 33, said he was told the city Department of Education wanted to upgrade the playground and “I couldn’t jump fast enough.”

Wagner said the opportunity for the students was a good experience.

“They went through the whole planning process, which was nice,” he said. “They learned how architecture works. The children loved it and they worked together. They really utilized the space.”

Wagner said the new track and field will allow´╗┐ the school to hold its field day at PS 33 when in other years it had to have the event in Alley Pond Park.

Wagner said about 200 residents use the playground during the weekend.

Marsad Kabir, a fourth-grader at PS 33, said it was “a good pleasure” to help design the playground.

“When it was done, I was really excited and I come here every weekend to play basketball with my friends,” he said.

“It’s good to have the beautiful playground that we have right now,” said his classmate, Diana Francois.

John Gomez, 11, of Jamaica, said the playground had been beaten down prior to the upgrade.

“Before, it used to be just concrete and three [basketball] hoops, but one of them was broken,” he said.

Mary Alice Lee, director of the NYC Playgrounds Program, said the playground should stay in good condition for 15 to 20 years.

Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at hkoplowitz@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4573.

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