Tag Archives: bowne park

Op-ed: Bowne Park: kiss your venerable trees goodbye


| oped@queenscourier.com


CARSTEN W. GLAESER

The July 10 Courier reporting on the planned “facelift” and revitalized green space of Flushing’s Bowne Park comes with a cost far greater than the proposed $2.45M capital construction expense, if we consider the large long-lived trees that populate the park. In addition to aesthetics, we must be mindful of the high economic value and benefits and services that those trees provide. Scientific evidence reveals new understandings of the benefits and services gained from large trees, elevating these organisms to significant and irreplaceable natural assets in communities. From improvements in our health and healing, the psychological benefits we find among large trees, the removal of gaseous air pollution and interception of harmful particulate matter, valued in the millions of dollars, to the cooling effects and the savings from costly storm water control systems by a tree’s absorbing capacity, we ought to do a better job protecting this invaluable natural resource.

Yet, one park-wide construction facelift across a highly tree-sensitive landscape will result in needless tree losses in short time. With its heavy equipment and excavation, the harmful compaction of soils along with the deliberate absence of effective tree and landscape protections shall see scores of large park trees compromised in health. Such is the historical pattern of many NYC Parks Capital Construction park-revitalization projects populated by public trees. It is a division that is misguided and tree-unfriendly.

In 2013, the Chronicle reported on such a Parks Capital project in Queens at the Ridgewood Reservoir. Several venerable, irreplaceable 150-year old specimen plane trees and the adjacent open landscape were abused and harmed for a design scheme that did all but consider the “trees’ needs.” In 2004, a $2.0M Parks Capital lake-revitalization project in Kissena Park saw similar large shade trees abused by having protection and oversight removed to expedite the project to the financial gain of a contractor. Once magnificent, broad-canopied lakeside trees valued at $1.8M (as a living public asset) are now mere tree-skeletons, with a cost value that is quickly approaching zero. Then there is Washington Square Park, with its historic trees, where that revitalization project allowed abuses on a magnitude that some believe bordered on criminal.

By not addressing the trees’ needs amid construction, municipalities allow for tree abuses. When tree-unfriendly and illogical design schemes with award-winning intentions take preference over the trees’ needs, the outcome is never good. An effectively implemented and enforced state-of-the-art Tree and Landscape Protection Plan could combat this abuse. If carried out by the right arboricultural professional and given a level of autonomy and close collaboration with the project engineer, a Tree and Landscape Protection Plan could effectively reverse the tree abuse trends and consequences that have been witnessed.

The friends of Bowne Park, civic members and all who value and enjoy the presence of their large park tree assets and wish to have those trees for decades or even a century longer need to demand the best for tree health and its protections. They must demand of Parks Capital to plan and implement a Tree and Landscape Protection Plan. Its maintenance and enforcement, by whom and for how long must be mandated and upheld, or else your venerable trees will go the way of others lost to similar revitalization projects — dead and gone before we even realize what has happened.

Carsten W. Glaeser is a Flushing-based independent Consulting Arborist. He has an advanced graduate degree from CUNY Graduate Center in the plant sciences and was a biology and plant sciences instructor for CUNY undergraduate students before turning to consulting. Dr. Glaeser is active in several professional arboricultural and urban forestry organizations and locally is the current vice president of the Kissena Park Civic Association.

 

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$2.45M upgrade set for Flushing’s troubled Bowne Park


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre


After years of issues with garbage, dead wildlife and a lack of maintenance in Bowne Park, the green space in Flushing is set to receive a $2.45 million facelift.

Councilman Paul Vallone, whose district oversees the park, allocated $1.45 million in discretionary funds to upgrade the water fountains and filtration system in the pond of the nearly 12-acre park.

Residents complained in the past of the grimy pond, in which dead turtles reportedly have been found. The funds will also go to restore the asphalt pathways and lawn areas.

Borough President Melinda Katz will allocate an additional $1 million from her budget to the park to upgrade the playground, installing new play equipment with safety surfaces and benches.

“$2.45 million dollars will go a long way to restoring the natural resources of our precious park for wildlife, residents and neighborhood children alike,” said Robert Hanophy Jr., president of the Broadway-Flushing Homeowners Association.

Bowne Park is named for Walter Bowne, a New York City mayor in the 19th century, whose house stood on the land until 1925 when a fire destroyed the residence, according to the Parks Department.

The park is usually teeming with wildlife, including turtles, squirrels and various species of birds. Besides the pond, the park features two bocce courts, a basketball court and a playground with a sprinkler.

The revitalization of the park comes after a major project last year, in which the existing bocce court was renovated and a second court was added at the total cost of about $500,000. In 1994 the park underwent an $800,000 renovation, funded out of the budget of then Borough President Claire Schulman.

“Bowne Park has become an essential symbol of the quiet residential homes that surround the park,” Vallone said. “We promised to preserve the quality of life we cherish here in our communities and preserving and improving Bowne Park for decades to come is a testament to that promise.”

 

 

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200 homes in Bayside, Flushing file airplane noise complaints last month


| mchan@queenscourier.com

File photo

Almost all the noise complaints filed last month at three major airports came from Queens, according to data obtained by The Courier.

More than 700 calls about airplane noise flooded LaGuardia Airport this June, while 348 grievances came in about John F. Kennedy International Airport, according to statistics from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

Out of 1,061 total complaints that poured in last month, only 18 complaints were made to Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey.

The complaints came from almost 200 homes in Queens, mostly in Flushing and Bayside, according to Port Authority data collected June 1-30.

About 500 complaints to LaGuardia were from those neighborhoods, with a majority of calls coming from residents near Travis Triangle and Bowne Park.

Residents from across the Queens border in nearby Floral Park made most of the complaints to JFK, a total of 200.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approved a new flight pattern last December, much to the dismay of residents who say the procedure causes nonstop noise from low-flying planes.

The Port Authority and the FAA said they expect upcoming projects to reduce noise.

Representatives from both agencies addressed the Queens Borough President’s Aviation Advisory Council on July 22.

They said plans to soon rebuild and modernize the Central Terminal Building at LaGuardia would allow for larger planes on the runways. With more passengers per plane, that would mean fewer aircraft in the sky.

Officials also said by 2016, airports will be mandated to only use planes with engine sound-absorbing designs.

Planes going in and out of New York airports, with the exception of corporate aircraft, are currently “Stage 3” planes. The designation means engines are moved further into the interior of the plane to lessen noise.

Propellers are also shaped to deaden sound.

Barbara Brown, chair of the Eastern Queens Alliance, said larger planes would not be helpful.

“Even if flights are getting quieter, that won’t mean anything if there are more flights taking place in general,” she said.

Port Authority officials said they are also in the process of replacing 22 noise monitoring terminals and should be done by spring 2014.

They added that a public website will soon launch for people to monitor noise decibel readings and file noise complaints.

U.S. Senators Charles Schumer, Kirsten Gillibrand and multiple congressmembers from the city and Long Island have called for more action. They recently sent a letter to Port Authority executive director Patrick Foye urging his agency to create an airport advisory committee.

“It is simple common sense to say that the largest metropolitan area in the country should have an airport advisory committee like the one we are proposing,” Schumer said, “a body that would help increase quality of life for locals.”

The New York state legislature passed a bill this year that would require the Port Authority to conduct a one-time study to determine the effects of aircraft noise on Brooklyn, Queens, Long Island and Jersey residents.

It awaits Governor Andrew Cuomo’s signature in New York and ultimately needs New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s approval as well.

Additional reporting by Johann Hamilton

 

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‘Bowne’d for Renovations: Upgrades coming to Flushing park


| smosco@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Steve Mosco

No matter the weather or time of year, crowds gather on a daily and nightly basis at Bowne Park in Flushing, where the game is bocce ball and everyone plays.

“Sometimes you can wait an hour to play,” said Sime Stulic, who has played at the park for more years than he can remember. “We have been asking for a long time for a second [bocce] court.”

Now Stulic and his fellow players are getting that second court — and a lot more.

Community Board 7 (CB7) voted unanimously on February 13 in favor of renovating the park and adding another bocce ball court. Marilyn Bitterman, district manager of CB7, said this is something the community wanted, and construction is set to begin this fall.

“We will be replacing benches, picnic tables and adding tables and places to sit,” she said. “Really, an entirely new plaza will be put in, and the existing court will be renovated.”

Bocce players, who have been advocating for improvements to the park for a number of years, couldn’t be happier to hear the news. Peter Salamon, a resident in the neighborhood for over 30 years, said people come from all over Queens to play in this park.

“In the springtime, we have hundreds of people here,” he said. “Even people in Whitestone, where [the city] just built a new court, come here.”

Salamon went on to say that the surrounding community appreciates and welcomes the bocce players. He believes that having such a strong presence in the park deters criminal activity and makes the entire neighborhood safer.

“Years ago, you would never walk through this park at night because it was filled with bad activity,” he said. “People know that we will call the police if we see something. The community appreciates us because we keep the bad elements out.”

The bocce players also have a hand in keeping the park clean. In the early morning hours, Salamon can be found sweeping the grounds around the bocce court and picking up any trash lying around. He even tried to plant a few trees in the park, but the city cut them down because he didn’t have the appropriate permit.

“We come and we take care of this park, not the city. We buy our own equipment and even the special sand for the court,” he said. “We don’t ask for anything.”

The park’s new amenities come with a $500,000 price tag.

Councilmember Dan Halloran, while very happy the park is getting a renovation, wasn’t thrilled with the cost.

“An extra bocce court will be a good thing for Bowne Park, and I’m proud to have helped provide one [through funding],” he said. “But nothing comes cheap through city government.  I’m pressing for Parks to make this happen as affordably as possible.  I’ve asked the department to account for all discretionary funding over the last 10 years, and I am looking at the costs of Parks construction, including the Little Bay Park overruns.”