Tag Archives: Astoria Park Alliance

Astoria Park Alliance hosts It’s My Park Day


| asuriel@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Alina Suriel

The Astoria Park Alliance hosted their community’s It’s My Park Day on Sunday, and talked to local parents about what upgrades they would like to see in Charybdis Playground.

One of the biggest focuses of this year’s It’s My Park Day at Astoria Park was increasing support for a possible expansion of the playground and ascertaining which aspects of the park are most in need of upgrading. Parents were invited to rank their choices for possible upgrades on a vision board with multiple categories that had options for park activities and programming, playground equipment, safety features and amenities.

Many parents expressed specific concerns about the restrooms at Charybdis Playground, saying that they can usually be found locked or too dirty to use.

Anthony Liberatoscioli, a volunteer with the Astoria Park Alliance who uses the park with his 4-year-old daughter, said that he wants to see the playground grow as Astoria becomes more and more popular for growing families.

“More and more families are coming to Astoria. They really need a place to come,” said Liberatoscioli.

Martha Lopez-Gilpin, co-chair of the Astoria Park Alliance, stressed that it was especially important to educate parents on the capital budgeting process through which city projects get funded, and how this affects the advocated park expansion. According to Lopez-Gilpin, it could take anywhere from three to five years for the project to see fruition, and several million dollars.

“It is hard to be patient, but it’s important that we go through this process well because we want to have the best playground possible,” said Gilpin.

Educational activities were also provided for children during It’s My Park Day, and each proved to be a hit with local tykes of all ages. A large group continuously colored and scribbled on an outline drawing provided by Charles Basman of Arthouse Astoria, a local conservatory that offers music and painting classes at an affordable rate. Volunteers also were teaching how to transplant and care for small flowering plants which the children were able to take home to keep.

Councilman Costa Constantinides said that the event was an important outlet for residents to share their input on their experiences with the park and what improvements need to be made.

“Having days like this is so important,” Constantinides said. “It’s giving residents of this neighborhood an opportunity to talk about what they want for their park.”

The It’s My Park program is a citywide, year-round initiative organized by the City Parks Foundation, a nonprofit that creates programs in parks throughout all five boroughs of New York City. The “It’s My Park” program engages over 400 groups annually in hands-on service projects and events, including cleaning up litter in parks, raking leaves and painting benches. Service projects also often feature free, family-oriented activities such as tennis lessons, face painting and historic house tours.


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Star of Queens: Jules Corkery, co-chair of the Astoria Park Alliance


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

star of queens

BY ANTHONY O’REILLY

COMMUNITY SERVICE: In order to ensure that Astoria Park is maintained properly, Jules Corkery, co-chair of the Astoria Park Alliance, works with all city agencies, including the Parks Department, to ensure necessary services are carried out.

Expanding from south of the Triborough Bridge to north of the Hell Gate Bridge, the park is close to 60 acres. The Astoria Park Alliance is entirely made of volunteers and not only works to maintain the park, but works to hold activities there.

BACKGROUND: Corkery, originally from Maine, moved to Astoria in 2003 and immediately fell in love with the neighborhood. Aside from working with the Alliance, Corkery enjoys bird watching and gardening.

INSPIRATION: Corkery’s love of the park stemmed from her bird watching hobby. The park is home to a variety of birds, including red-tailed hawks. When Corkery spotted the animals, she became inspired to make sure that the park was safe for them.

FAVORITE MEMORY: Corkery says she looks forward every year to the local Girl Scout Troop #4301 helping out on “NY Cares Day,” held on April 20.

“It’s always great to see them come out and take part in the day,” she noted.

Corkery said the tradition will continue this year and is anticipating working with the local troop.

BIGGEST CHALLENGE: For Corkery, reaching a diversity of volunteers is the most difficult challenge for the Alliance.

“How do we overcome the language and cultural barrier? We live in Queens, which is one of the most diverse boroughs.”

The Astoria Park Alliance creates activities such as arts and crafts to get different people involved and is constantly coming up with new techniques.

 

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Star of Queens: Connie Arroyo


| MKirk@queenscourier.com

Arroyow

Connie Arroyo

Volunteer, Astoria Park Alliance

COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT: Connie Arroyo contributes to the Astoria Park Alliance by attending monthly meetings and helping out with activities including cleaning up the beach along Shore Boulevard and helping organize the Astoria Shore Fest. The Fest was started four years ago and takes place over three Sundays in August and includes live music, activities for kids and pets and lots of food.

“We take pride in the park and try to instill that in others,” Arroyo said.

PERSONAL: After growing up in the Bronx, Arroyo moved to Queens, where she raised her children. Now retired, she worked as a special education teacher for New York public schools.

FAVORITE MEMORY: Arroyo said all the feedback she gets from people who use the park is her favorite memory about working for the Alliance, particularly at unexpected moments at various places around her neighborhood.

“To be complimented about working at the park, that alone is so great,” she said.

INSPIRATION: Visiting the park itself provides Arroyo her biggest inspiration for continuing her service with the Alliance. She enjoyed going for walks there so much throughout her life that she looks at her volunteer work as a way to merit everything the park has to offer.

“I felt I had to give back to the community,” she said.

BIGGEST CHALLENGE: Arroyo said recent cutbacks in staff present the biggest challenge the Alliance faces. The fewer workers the organization has, the more trash builds up on the shore.

“We have to try to help them as much as we can,” Arroyo said, calling on anyone willing to volunteer for the Astoria Park Alliance.