Photo Courtesy of Google
Harold Schneiderman Playground in Lindenwood.
By Michael V. Cusenza
One of the more intriguing topics on the agenda of the March 2021 virtual meeting of the Howard Beach Lindenwood Civic was an update on the long-promised upgrade of the beloved Harold Schneiderman Playground in Lindenwood.
Howard Beach Lindenwood Civic President Joann Ariola passed the microphone to Community Board 10 Chairwoman Betty Braton so Betty could catch everybody up on the latest City parks and rec news as it relates to the popular South Queens Schneiderman spot—especially considering that summer is just around the corner.
The daunting project will reconstruct the playground. Thanks to the offices of the Queens Borough President and City Councilman Eric Ulrich, between $3 and $5 million has already been allocated and secured for the Schneiderman project.
There are three components to such Parks Department undertakings: Design, Procurement; Construction. As of Wednesday, March 31, 2021, the Design aspect is 30-percent complete.
“The schematic design for this project has been approved internally at Parks and is now going through review by the community board and external regulatory agencies for comment and approval,” according to a “Project Update” posted on the NYC Parks site.
“Bear in mind,” Braton noted Tuesday evening, “this is not etched in stone. This is a schematic.”
Still, the long-time CB 10 chairwoman remains optimistic.
“In about two years, we’ll have a nice park for our residents and children to enjoy,” Braton added.
According to the City Parks Department, Harold Schneiderman Playground, located at 155th Avenue between 84th and 85th streets, is named in honor of Harold Schneiderman (1926-1985), who lived nearby. Born in Buffalo, Schneiderman lived the last 25 years of his life in Howard Beach, and was involved in a wide number of community and charitable organizations.
Schneiderman, owner of over a dozen supermarkets, was known for his work with the Order of Knights of Pythias, a national fraternal organization founded by Justus H. Rathbone in 1864—during the Civil War—to promote “Friendship, Charity, [and] Benevolence.” The Order draws many lessons from the story of the friendship between Damon and Pythias, historical characters who predated the Christian era by 400 years. They were members of a school founded by Pythagoras, whose goal was the moral uplifting and purification of society. The Order held that the two most excellent acts were “to speak the truth and render benefits to each other.” At the suggestion of President Lincoln, the Order applied to Congress for a Charter, and became the first American Order ever chartered by an Act of Congress. As the District Deputy Grand Chancellor of the Knights of Pythias, Schneiderman served on the Board of the Pythian Summer Camp for City Youth, and was one of the founders of the New York State Women’s Chapter of the Pythian Order.
Schneiderman was also known for his involvement with the local Little League. He participated regularly in the Cerebral Palsy Telethon, and contributed money to the Samaritan Village, Daytop Village, and Convenant House. After his death in 1985, the Cross Bay Utopia Lodge Knights of Pythias established the Harold Schneiderman Memorial Fund to continue his charitable work.
Local Law No. 96 of 1993, sponsored by City Councilman Walter Ward, renamed the site Harold Schneiderman Playground in honor of the community activist. The playground was officially re-dedicated in a ceremony in July 1994, which was attended by a crowd of elected officials and local residents, including Schneiderman’s wife, Marion.