April 11, By Hannah Wulkan
Following a push from local parents, Gantry Plaza State Park will open its athletic field an hour earlier beginning next week.
The LIC Parents Group, which consists of about 950 members, began an effort to get the field opened at 7 a.m. every day, rather than 8 a.m., so that their children could exercise before going to school. The group also got several local politicians on board to support the effort.
Today, New York State Parks announced that beginning on April 17, the field would be open at 7 a.m. every day.
“As the morning daylight hours get longer and the weather gets nicer State Parks will be opening the athletic field at Gantry Plaza State Park earlier to further accommodate our visitors wishing to start their day off in the outdoors,” said State Parks spokesman Randy Simons.
“Each day state park staff utilize the brief early morning daylight to prepare the park in a manner to ensure safe and enjoyable recreation for the thousands expected to visit. From time to time State Parks has received a few special requests to adjust the normal operating schedule and when circumstances have allowed we have accommodated,” he added.
The LIC Parents Group began pushing for the earlier hours several weeks ago.
“It’s a beautiful park but it can’t be utilized before school,” said local parent Kris Schrey, who is led the charge to open the park earlier. “There have been numerous studies linking intense physical activity before school with cognitive functioning in school, so if we can allow our kids to play soccer or baseball in the morning, they will perform much better in school.”
State Senator Michael Gianaris and Assemblywoman Cathy Nolan both supported the parents group in their efforts to open the field earlier in the morning.