A crowd of roughly 500 people attended the grand opening ceremony for the city’s most energy efficient building - the new visitor and administration center at the Queens Botanical Garden in Flushing.
On Friday, September 28, Mayor Michael Bloomberg praised the building at 43-50 Main Street, which has achieved recognition for the highest degree of Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), a platinum LEED rating, from the U.S. Green Building Council at the ribbon cutting. He also acknowledged those who played a significant role in its creation, including Borough President Helen Marshall and her predecessor, Claire Shulman.
Although Bloomberg attached the project to the list of his administration’s accomplishments, Marshall delicately avoided contradicting him, mentioning in passing that her office provided over $11.2 million of the Center’s $20.3 million price tag.
The center has among its features a green roof, solar panels which generate 25 percent of its electricity, passive geothermal heating/air conditioning and a system which banks rain water for garden use.
Among the panoply of dignitaries were city Cultural Affairs Commissioner Kate D. Levin and architect David Burney, who heads the city’s Department of Design and Construction; Leroy G. Comrie, Chair of the Queens delegation of the New York City Council and James F. Gennaro, Chair of the Council’s Environmental Committee; State Senators Frank Padavan and Toby Ann Stavisky; Assemblymembers Ivan C. Lafayette, Catherine Nolan and William Scarborough.
Levin praised the garden as an oasis of diversity, both in plantings and visitors, noting that 75 percent of visitors “speak a language other than English at home.” The point was presaged by a preliminary performance by a local Tai Chi group, which regularly meets there.
Councilmember John Liu and Assemblymember Ellen Young, who represent the local area, were also present and joined the other speakers in praise of the Botanical Garden’s Executive Director Susan Lacerte and Chair of the Board of Trustees, Frank Macchio.
Lacerte recounted the garden’s evolution from a smoldering ash heap which served as a metaphor for despair in the novel “The Great Gatsby,” to a surviving feature of the two World’s Fairs which were hosted in New York.
Macchio stressed that both the building, with its environmental inspiration and the garden itself, will make the world a better place for children - especially his own young son, who spent much of the morning in his father’s arms.
The guests, many of whom were longtime garden volunteers, thoroughly enjoyed the Tai Chi demonstration and the performance by local schoolchildren.
For more information about the garden, its programs and schedules call 718-886-3800 or visit www.queensbotanical.org.