Plan to improve parks in each borough kicks off in Astoria

The first phase of a $150 million revamp of five large city parks kicked off Tuesday with a ceremonial groundbreaking at Astoria Park.

Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver and other officials gave the update of the city’s Anchor Parks project on a pockmarked lawn that will be replaced with a synthetic turf soccer field. The field will be accompanied by an upgraded track, new bleachers and other amenities.

“This will be a full-service athletic field,” Silver said.

Construction on Highbridge Park in Manhattan, St. Mary’s Park in the Bronx and Betsy Head Park in Brooklyn is expected to begin by the end of the year and be completed by 2020. Work on Freshkills Park on Staten Island will start in 2020.

“These parks are local anchors,” Silver said. “They are green spaces that serve as local points for the community.”

After Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the program in 2016, agency officials met with community members to glean feedback on what residents wanted to see in the parks. Many of those ideas were used in the redesigns. One new feature coming to Astoria Park will be rain gardens — a suggestion made by 12-year-old Astoria resident Angela Garvin, who wrote out a detailed proposal and personally submitted it to Silver.

“I was blown away by what she wrote about the importance of our future, about sustainability and how we have to do the right thing here in Astoria Park,” Silver said.