Travers Park is a city owned park and playground bordered by 77th and 78th Streets, on the north by 34th Avenue, with the Garden School and a retail establishment serving a the southern border. More than half of the park is occupied by an asphalt play area, with softball field and tennis courts. Volleyball courts are frequently set up in this area as well. A children's playground with leaf-and-vine shaped spray shower occupies about one fifth of the park. There are restroom facilities, handball courts, a basketball court, a well manicured garden, a small picnic area, and a bicycle rack.
In 2012, a segment of adjacent 78th Street was transformed into a permanent Street Plaza and the sports area of a nearby Garden School was bought by New York City and added to the park. Travers Park is surrounded by trees, but does not have a lawn or any significant green space in its current configuration. An ongoing park refurbishment project promises to remedy that.
The park underwent a major renovation in the mid-1990s, improving what had been a neglected playground. A series of green planting areas were created through the northern half of the park that flourish today. Many of the shrubs, perennials and fencing protecting them are the work of Friends of Travers Park, which continues to maintain the plantings and provides neighborhood input to the New York City Parks Department.
A movement to expand the park started in 2007. Related to this effort was the closing of neighboring 78th Street to vehicular traffic from July to November in 2008 and 2009 enabling the street to function as a play street. The play street project was a joint effort by several organizations, including the Friends of Travers Park, JH Green Alliance, and the Western Jackson Heights Alliance. The intention was to seek the closing of the street in 2009 to coincide with the presence of Greenmarket. In 2010, after organizing a march to Queens Community Board 3 to request their support, the organizing groups were granted permission to close 78th Street to traffic for the entire months of July and August. In August 2012 a section of 78th Street adjacent to the park was permanently closed to traffic and transformed into a pedestrian plaza, effectively adding a 10,000-square-foot area to Travers Park. This plaza is managed by the Jackson Heights Green Alliance who are responsible for the maintenance and overseeing the events that take place on the plaza. In February 2013, NYC Parks and the NYC Department of Citywide Administrative Services completed the acquisition of a 24,600-square-foot asphalt play yard formerly owned by the Garden School at 33-16 79th Street, and added the land to Travers Park. That year, the children's playground was renovated again. The playground became fully Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)-compliant and is appropriate for children aged 5 to 10 years old.
The creation of the play street and the acquisition of the Rory Staunton Field has led to a major redevelopment of Travers Park. The following is a schematic of the planned park.
The following details on the redevelopment plan were copied from the Parks Department on May 5, 2017. For the latest city details see here.
Start Date: February 2014
Projected Completion Date: October 2015
Completion Date: November 2016
Start Date: November 2016
Projected Completion Date: August 2017
The average time for construction is 12-18 months. The construction timeline for this specific contract will be established at the conclusion of the procurement phase.
The total cost of redevelopment is expected to be between $3 million and $10 million.
Mayor, City Council, Borough President
Project Liaison: Joanne Amagrande. Contact NYC Parks Department for more about this project.
Rory Staunton Field
Across 78th Street from Travers Park is the .57-acre Rory Staunton Field, a former school yard of the Garden School that was transferred to the city's Parks Department in 2013. It is names for Rory Staunton (1999-2012) who resided in Sunnyside Gardens and attended the Garden School. Rory was active in a variety of civic causes until an infection led to his untimely death from septic shock in 2012. Staunton’s death helped to inspire the New York State Department of Health to implement protocols in all New York hospitals to better identify and treat sepsis, and the creation of the Rory Staunton Foundation to educate the public about this infection, which is usually treatable if quickly diagnosed.
The Jackson Heights Greenmarket, a farmer's market, opens on Sundays year-round in and adjacent to the park. Since 2004, Travers Park has been home to Summer Sundays in the Park, a performance series that features a wide range of music, both in style and ethnicity. The series includes a musical produced by Theater for the New City, and a show by the Swedish Cottage Marionettes, based in Central Park. The series is sponsored by the Jackson Heights Beautification Group, and its Friends of Travers Park committee. It was funded in 2009 largely through grants from the Queens Council on the Arts, which had provided funding for several of the earlier editions.
On a sunny spring or summer day it's not unusual to see multiple activities occurring on the asphalt athletic area: bicycle riding, cricket, baseball, softball, soccer, tennis, and basketball. There is also a handball and a full-court basketball court. Toddlers can play in a protected area, and a section for a waterworks and a table and chair area for games. It's not an ideal sports venue with falls to the hard surface too often resulting in injuries; but as with many things in New York City, park-goers make do.
- "Travers Park". City of New York Parks & Recreation. Retrieved 2012-06-29.
- http://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/rory-stanton-field Rory Staunton Field
- “Jackson Heights Garden School Field Renamed In Memory Of Rory Staunton” Parks Press Release September 23, 2013 http://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/travers-park/pressrelease/21185
- Dwyer, Jim “An Infection, Unnoticed, Turns Unstoppable” New York Times July 11, 2012
- Trapasso, Clare “City reaches deal to expand Travers Park in Jackson Heights. Garden School agrees to sell its yard for roughly $6 million” NY Daily News March 21, 2012