Tag Archives: City Parks Foundation

Western Queens gets greener: park officials


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo by Valerie Medoff

Western Queens has gotten greener these past four years with a project that has planted more than 1,000 new trees — and the program will just keep growing.

Partnerships for Parks, a joint program between the nonprofit City Parks Foundation and the city’s Parks Department, celebrated on Dec. 12 the planting of trees and tree care events in Astoria, Long Island City, Sunnyside and Woodside over the past few years.

Key project representatives, elected officials and local organizations, such as New York Restoration Project (NYRP), Trees New York, City Parks Foundation and NYC Parks/Forestry, gathered at the celebration ceremony where the “torch was passed” to community volunteers, who will now lead the program and continue to green the neighborhoods.

Since 2011, the Greening Western Queens (GWQ) Urban Forestry and Community Stewardship Program has brought more than 1,100 new trees and over 100 community-enriching tree care projects to the western Queens neighborhoods.

The four-year, grant-funded project was part of a $7.9 million initiative of The North Star Fund to invest in energy efficiency and environmental projects in the community, which was affected by a 2006 electric power outage.

The GWQ program was created in the summer of 2011, when honey locusts and Japanese pagodas were planted. Since then, the project has planted 1,127 trees, including 598 new street trees on sidewalks, 528 trees in publicly accessible private spaces, such as schools, churches and public housing sites, and a storm water mitigation bioswale on the site of the Steinway & Sons piano factory in Astoria.

Other works include training over 400 people in tree care best practices with Trees New York and supporting more than 1,600 people at over 128 volunteer tree care and greening events.

An existing tree inventory was also conducted, and 455 blocks were digitally mapped in the project area in collaboration with TreeKIT and 54 local volunteers during 27 citizen mapping events.

The program also installed 400 custom-designed, GWQ-branded tree guards in order to protect the young street trees and planted more than 1,800 native perennials in 117 tree beds.

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Longtime Jamaica community garden volunteer sees role trimmed back


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Benjamin Fang

BY BENJAMIN FANG

Alberta Crowley was a star in her community, but now she says the city’s Parks Department is trying to restrict her glowing service.

The 71-year-old Queens Village resident has been volunteering at the Bricktown Community Garden on 106th Avenue and 173rd Street in Jamaica for six years. But she claims park officials have restricted her activity to a space next to the garden, called Tree of Life.

“The area here is unleveled, unsafe,” Crowley said. “They locked me out of the garden.” She said workers from the City Parks Foundation (CPF), a nonprofit that works with the Parks Department, took over about a year ago.

In the past, Crowley worked with disabled children and seniors, helping them grow fig trees, cherry trees, blueberries and grapevines. Now she said she’s not allowed to continue because she’s not certified.

“They said I can’t work here with special needs people,” Crowley said. She pointed out that she was previously given permission as a member of GreenThumb, a city community gardening education program funded by the Parks Department.

The Parks Department responded in an email that Crowley was allowed to temporarily use a portion of the City Park Foundation’s original garden, called the Learning Garden, for her workshops with adults with disabilities.

“In order to accommodate the growing demand for CPF’s educational programs, this section of CPF’s garden has been reintegrated with the rest of their garden,” a Parks Department spokesman said. “Ms. Crowley continues to be welcome to help with these workshops.”
Vanessa Smith, who advocates on Crowley’s behalf, said officials from the Parks Department want to close her off.

“They said she wasn’t allowed to go in there because she’s a volunteer and they are paid,” Smith said. “She’s doing this out of love, so why would you lock her out?”

In addition, Smith said officials from the Parks Department are not providing the support Crowley needs to maintain the smaller area she was relegated to.

“They’re not giving her the funding to upgrade it here,” Smith said. “What I think they’re trying to do is eventually take over the whole area.”

Park officials say they are providing the equipment necessary for improvements. “GreenThumb is currently purchasing lumber and soil to allow raised planting beds to be constructed,” a Parks Department spokesman said. Thirty pieces of lumber currently rest inside the Tree of Life garden.

Despite the dispute over certification and land usage, Crowley said she wants to continue what she’s been doing in the last six years.

“I want access to the area and raised beds for seniors,” she said. She hopes to continue working with people with disabilities and seniors who need wheelchair accessibility into the garden.

Crowley and Parks Department representatives are slated to meet in August, where they will discuss use of the space and possibly building a direct entrance to Tree of Life.

The City Parks Foundation did not respond to a request for comment.

 

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Free senior fitness classes at Queens parks


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

This fall, the CityParks Seniors Fitness program will offer free yoga instruction and tennis lessons at four Queens parks.

The activities, which are open to New Yorkers 60 and older, begin the week of September 23 and will take place twice a week at each park through November 1.

All equipment and instruction is free. Sessions are one hour long, except tennis lessons in Astoria Park and Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, which are two hours.

Here is where and when the classes will take place:

Astoria Park
Tennis – Mondays/Wednesdays at 10 a.m. – 12 p.m. – Tennis Courts at 21st Street and Hoyt Avenue S

Cunningham Park
Tennis – Tuesdays/Thursdays at 9 a.m – Tennis Courts at Union Turnpike and 193rd Street
Yoga – Tuesdays/Thursdays at 10 a.m – Tennis Courts at Union Turnpike and 193rd Street

Flushing Meadows-Corona Park
Tennis – Mondays/Wednesdays at 9 a.m – 11 a.m – Tennis Courts at Meridian Road

Roy Wilkins Park
Tennis – Tuesdays/Thursdays at 10 a.m – Tennis Courts at Baisley Boulevard and 177th Street
Yoga– Tuesdays/Thursdays at 9 a.m – Tennis Courts at Baisley Boulevard  and 177th Street.

NOTE: Schedule subject to change. For the most up-to-date schedule visit: www.cityparksfoundation.org/sports/seniors-fitness.

Battle for your boro on the court


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of USTA Eastern

Grab your racket and volley up some borough pride.

The inaugural Battle of the Boroughs Tennis Challenge is coming to Flushing Meadows-Corona Park on May 11.

Hosted by USTA Eastern, the new tournament calls for tennis aces to represent their boroughs and be the last team standing in the citywide competition at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on June 15.

Teams can register for a slot at eastern.usta.com/boroughs for $20 per player. There can be up to 10 members on a team. Each player must be at least 19 years old.

Proceeds will benefit City Parks Foundation, which gives free tennis lessons to children at 40 parks citywide.

The winning team will receive a trophy, but all participants will be given t-shirts, snacks and two free rounds of tennis.

 

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Jackson Heights’ Dunningham Triangle to be revamped


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Alexa Altman

Jackson Heights’ Dunningham Triangle is blossoming, sprouting with seeds planted by local residents.

The 82nd Street Partnership united with the Partnership for Parks — a subdivision of the City Parks Foundation — to revamp a 2,000-square-foot piece of land in the heart of Jackson Heights, assisted by suggestions from citizens.

“We looked at Dunningham Triangle and saw a lot of potential for it to be a great common gathering space,” said Seth Taylor of the 82nd Street Partnership, a group that focuses on beautification and advocacy throughout the neighborhood.

At an all-day event on Friday, August 24, volunteers collected input from local stakeholders, who filled out surveys about what they would like to see happen to Dunningham Triangle. Passers-by filled out questionnaires and surveys, writing their hopes for the tiny space on triangle-shaped cards.

Four-year-old Elizabeth from Jackson Heights wants Dunningham Triangle to have chairs and benches to relax in, as well as music events for kids and toys to play with.

Taylor believes that despite the park’s small size, it can have a major impact. Jackson Heights was ranked second to last in park space out of the 51 council districts citywide in a New Yorkers for Parks study published in 2009.

“One of people’s frustrations is that there’s nowhere to sit outside,” said Taylor. “We’re trying to fix that a bit. This is a great neighborhood for people watching but there’s nowhere to do that.”

Taylor said the space could hold anything from language classes to dance lessons.

“The community will benefit because this is going to provide a really nice amenity,” said Taylor. “I think if the community is involved in the vision of the space, it becomes more of a valued space.”

Jason Schwartz, director of the Partnerships for Parks — an organization that helps nearly 600 groups build outdoor spaces annually — said the $200,000 Jackson Heights project is part of a larger green initiative for Jackson Heights that also includes Department of Transportation (DOT) instated pedestrian plazas.

“The work we do is all about community engagement,” said Schwartz. “The more people who come together and talk about how the space they have can be the most maximized will help.”

The newly revitalized Dunningham Triangle is expected to be up and running by next summer.