Borough President Melinda Katz and Queens Parks Commissioner Dorothy Lewandowski joined members of community boards 6 and 9 and Joseph DeVoy’s family to break ground on the major park upgrade last Wednesday.
The $1.45 million capital project, funded by the Borough President’s office, will include new forest-themed ADA accessible park equipment and amenities.
“DeVoy Playground is a charming neighborhood jewel nestled inside one of Queens’ largest parks,” Lewandowski said. “The new playground, designed to look like a tree house, will spark the imaginations of everyone who visits it and reflect the beauty of Forest Park.”
The playground’s new layout will fit to the park’s sloping terrain. A drinking fountain will be installed in addition to more seating and swings. The main entrance will be regraded and the entrance gate will be replaced with one that allows for better access.
The interactive equipment, including a set of steel drums, allows for children ages two to 15 use the playground, Lewandowski said. Existing features like the wood climbing logs and the animal sculptures will be preserved.
In 2000, the year DeVoy passed away at the age of 74, the playground was renamed in honor of the community activist. He was once the Forest Hills Civic Association president, co-chairman of the Federation of Civic Councils of Queens County, president of the Central Queens Allied Council, a member of the Bell Atlantic Community Advisory Council and a secretary of the Central Queens Historical Society.
For years, DeVoy also served on Community Board 6, and functioned as the first chairman of Community Board 9 before it later became Community Board 6 in 1963. DeVoy also co-founded the Forest Hills Volunteer Ambulance Corps in 1971.
“Joe DeVoy was the head of the Forest Hills Civic Association when I first started out in my career 22 years ago,” Katz said. “I got to know him very well and when it came to naming the park, he seemed like the obvious person to name the park after.”
Katz called the playground a park for families, in which parents could have their children play within a gated area either at the playground or at the grassy, open space nearby.
Doris attended the groundbreaking ceremony with the couple's granddaughter Heather DeVoy, who visited the playground with Joseph when she was a child.
Heather said that while the other construction looked amazing, they couldn’t wait to see what’s in store for the park and future generations of children.
“The Parks Department called me and told me about the ceremony,” Doris added. “I wasn’t feeling so well yesterday, but after I heard about the plans for the playground I bounced up and felt great again.”