Tag Archives: New York City Parks Department

Juniper Valley Park to hold qualifier for citywide bocce tournament

| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

THE COURIER/File photo

The city’s Parks Department will play host to the qualifying rounds for their Citywide Bocce Tournament on Sept. 12 in parks throughout the five boroughs.

Juniper Valley Park in Middle Village will be the site for the Queens qualifying round. The Bronx tournament will be held at Pelham Bay Park; Brooklyn’s Dyker Beach Park will be that borough’s location; James J. Walker Park will hold the Manhattan qualifier; and Staten Island will play at South Beach Wetlands.

The best teams during the qualifiers will advance to the championship round on Sept. 26 in South Beach, Staten Island, where one borough will be crowned the citywide winner.

Registration for the tournaments is currently open. Adults are welcome to join, either individually or as a group of up to four. Beginners and experienced bocce players are welcome.

For more information or to register, visit the Parks Department website.


Moms want upgrades for Ridgewood playground

| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photos by Anthony Giudice

Updated June 17, 10:35 a.m.

Things aren’t so rosy at Rosemary’s Playground in Ridgewood, according to mothers Stephanie Sauer and Caroline Stark, who frequent the park with their children on a daily basis.

“This is the closest park for residents of this neighborhood,” Sauer said. “There are a lot of parents with young children that visit the park, as well as people of all ages and races.”

These two moms are looking for improvements to be made at Rosemary’s Playground so their playground can be comparable to other parks around the area. They addressed the issues directly to Community Board 5 during its meeting last week.

“I am wondering why this one is so neglected,” Sauer said in an interview Monday. “If you go to the park by Grover Cleveland or Juniper Valley Park and see how great those parks are, it makes me wonder why this playground is so ignored.”

Some of the problems Sauer and Stark have noticed at the park include peeling paint along some of the walls and playground equipment, potentially dangerous elevated flower beds, and trash in and around the playground, among several others.

The mothers believe the two elevated flower beds pose a danger to children, especially in the condition they are currently in.

“My kid was playing in the dirt and there was a large piece of peeling paint around him,” Stark said. “They are nothing but a hazard. We just tolerate it for now because there isn’t a better option.”

The vegetation that grows in these green spaces may not be the safest for the users of the park. In the flower beds, one has nothing but small plants and weeds growing in it while the other one has thorny bushes growing. The trees along the perimeter have berries growing off of them and the parents are concerned that their children might try and eat them.

“These berries are just growing here,” Sauer said. “We don’t know if they are edible if one of the children tries to put them in their mouth. Kids try to put everything in their mouths.”

Other parts of the park’s infrastructure are in need of repairs as well. The playground equipment is marred with peeling paint and damages.

“Some of this stuff looks like it has been through a war,” Sauer said. “It looks like it came from a war zone. This isn’t up to standards. We don’t have really high expectations, but we want a decent park to bring our children to.”

Garbage has also become a problem in the playground.

“I found an empty liquor bottle right in the middle of the floor,” Stark said. “I’m just lucky I noticed it first before my son did.”

Inside Rosemary’s Playground there is an open area with a soft-top surface that has no practical use for parkgoers.

“I would love to see maybe a nice grassy area with some bushes where people could come with a blanket and enjoy the day,” Sauer said of the void area.

The mothers plan on attending additional community board meetings until their concerns are addressed and their park is repaired.

“It’s not just us,” Sauer said. “We have a whole dedicated mommy and daddy team that want changes made to this park. If it is not one of us, someone will take our place at the community board meeting and speak out on these problems until they are fixed.”

Dorothy Lewandowski, Queens Parks commissioner, said that the Parks Department has reached out to Community Board 5 and community members who have voiced concerns about Rosemary’s Playground regarding this issue.

“Rosemary’s Playground is in need of some TLC and we’re committed to working with the community to make the changes they see for this park,” Lewandowski said in an email statement to the Ridgewood Times. “We look forward to meeting with park users to create both short- and long-term plans to address immediate maintenance needs and fully realize their vision for the space.”


Ridgewood residents wanted to count neighborhood trees

| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

File Photo

Ridgewood residents are urged to help take inventory of the neighborhood’s street trees during the city’s Tree Count 2015.

Every 10 years the New York City Parks Department takes a census of all street trees within the five boroughs. Each decade, volunteers are needed to help with this huge undertaking.

Volunteers are trained by Parks staff, and teams of two volunteers are assigned blocks to survey. The counting will take place during June, July and August.

There are 200 square blocks in Ridgewood that need to be surveyed. The Ridgewood Property Owners and Civic Association (RPOCA) will help to organize training and mapping events in Ridgewood.

To volunteer, register at nyc.gov/parks/treescount. Then, take the 20-minute online course about counting trees.

Once registered, attend the upcoming training event located at 1882 Woodbine St. near Woodward Avenue, on Saturday, June 6, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., where volunteers will have hands-on training in how to count trees.

For questions or further information, call Maryellen Borello at 718-381-3366.


Bayside native to become northeast Queens administrator for Parks Department

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Matthew Symons


Bayside native Matthew Symons is the new face of the parks he frequented as a child.

Symons, who has worked in the New York City Parks Department for almost 20 years, officially starts his job as the northeast Queens administrator this Monday.

He will be in charge of the overall upkeep of the parks in the district, which include Alley Pond Park, Oakland Lake, Crocheron Park, Fort Totten, Little Bay, Joe Michaels Mile and some smaller properties.

As an administrator, Symons will also be encouraging volunteer participation, working with local stakeholders in the parks and acting as a liaison with community boards and elected officials.

Symons joined the Ranger Rick Nature Club as a child and while studying at SUNY Binghamton, he met a classmate who was an Urban Park Ranger and decided to pursue that as a career. He worked as an Urban Park Ranger for 14 years before becoming the deputy administrator for Flushing Meadows Corona Park, the fourth largest public park in New York City.

“This part of the world really means a lot to me as a park ranger, but also as a native Queens person,” Symons said.

Symons’ experience as a deputy administrator for Flushing Meadows Corona Park has prepared him for his new role, he said, and he wants to make it a mission to attract more visitors to northeast Queens parks.

“I think it’s always important…to develop a sense of stewardship with the public, so we want people to feel engaged and interested and to feel that the parks belong to them,” Symons said. “It’s not the city owns the parks and they just visit them, but the parks are something that belong to them.”

Though Symons hasn’t technically started his job yet, he has already been visiting parks to engage with people who are interested in parks and those who may not be so that he can gauge the projects and events he should be working on.

“[My goal is to] kind of take the temperature of the community and see what the needs are and then based on that pursue what makes most sense for the public and the parks in general.”

Though he anticipates that there will be challenges in his new role, so far, Symons likes what he sees.

“In the past few weeks, I’ve been spending some time in the area and….I’m not saying that there won’t be challenges, but we’ve had a volunteer event every weekend,” Symons said. “Basically, all of our properties are getting a lot of attention, which is great.”

Symons said the Parks Department faces a unique challenge in northeast Queens because unlike other parts of the city, Queens residents have access to outdoor spaces closer to home, such as their own backyards.

He hopes to use special events and programs like Urban Park Rangers to interest this segment of the Queens community.

“We will try anything to get people to visit their parks and love their parks,” Symons said.


Historic Highland Park bridge to get makeover

| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photo by Anthony Giudice

Plans for the rehabilitation of the historic stone bridge in Highland Park headlined the Community Board 5 Parks Services Committee meeting on Tuesday.

Joannene Kidder, the chief staff manager and director of community affairs for the city Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Division of Bridges, gave a presentation on the proposed plans for restoring the pedestrian span located on the Brooklyn-Queens border.

Kidder explained that the DOT, rather than the Parks Department, is involved with this project because the DOT is better equipped to perform bridge inspections and maintenance.

The presentation highlighted defects on the underside of the bridge including spalling (the fragmenting and flaking of the concrete of the bridge); cracking of bricks; efflorescence (a powdery substance that forms when brick and mortar are exposed to moist conditions); and graffiti and painting.

“Essentially what we’re doing is we’re going to take the entire superstructure down and reconstruct it from there up,” Kidder said of the proposed improvements to the bridge. “The substructure is in good condition, so we’re not expecting to do an entire reconstruction from under the ground up.”

The bridge is set to receive a lightweight, reinforced concrete slab on the top side of the archway as well as waterproofing. The DOT will clean the surfaces of the bridge; replace any missing stones in the structure; refill and repaint any missing mortar to match the existing mortar; and pressure wash all graffiti off of the bridge, while adding graffiti-proof surfaces.

The surrounding area of the bridge is also getting upgrades. The streetlights will be replaced with LED fixtures; under-deck lighting will be added; and an 8-foot-wide gravel path will be installed underneath the bridge’s arch. Additionally, crews will install curbs and re-grading for drainage and erosion control, and add more than 80 trees and shrubs to the landscape near the bridge.

Board members questioned why the path was being made of gravel and not asphalt.

“When you install asphalt, now you have an impervious surface that now has runoff and that drainage has to be accommodated somewhere,” Kidder said. “With the gravel, all the rainwater, all the stuff will just percolate back into the soil. They want as few impervious surfaces as possible inside parks.”

The contract for the project will be put out to bid this summer, and construction is planned for the fall. Work is expected to be completed in the fall of 2016.


City cuts ribbon on $6.65M Queensbridge Park project, seawall reconstruction

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo by Daniel Avila/NYC Parks

The Long Island City waterfront has just received a much needed facelift.

Officials cut the ribbon on Tuesday on the $6.65 million project in Queensbridge Park which included the restoration and improvement of the seawall, and the creation of a six-foot-wide waterfront promenade with benches and plants as well as a small pier at the north end.

“The completion of the Queensbridge Park Seawall restores access to the waterfront, access that has been denied for far too long,” Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer said. “No longer do Queensbridge residents need to look at the seawall as it crumbles into the East River. Instead, residents will be able to enjoy a park and waterfront just as lovely as any in New York City.”

The seawall protects the park from high tides and covers some of the mechanisms and underwater cables that keep a number of subway lines in order. It was previously blocked off by a chain-link fence due to decades of deterioration.

This project, managed by the NYC Economic Development Corporation, included the reconstruction of the seawall using rip-rap revetment. Rip-rap, made up of large rocks, was used to protect the shoreline by absorbing and deflecting waves and also decreasing the effects of erosion.

“New York City’s 520 miles of shoreline is one of its greatest assets, and we are proud to continue reconnecting New Yorkers to their waterfront,” said Dmitri Konon, NYCEDC executive vice president for capital programs.



Astoria Park gets new trees for green-friendly Five Boro Bike Tour

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Angy Altamirano

More than 30,000 bicyclists will pedal into a greener Astoria Park this May.

Volunteers from nonprofits Bike New York, the New York Restoration Project and other organizations, as well as local and city officials came together on Earth Day to plant 64 trees at the park, which will be one of the major rest areas for the 37th TD Five Boro Bike Tour.

“It’s our way of giving back to the environment and to the park,” said Beth Heyde, senior events manager for Bike NY.

Out of the 64 trees, which included 12 different species, 20 were placed Tuesday on the route bicyclists have taken throughout the park for years during the bike tour.

“It feels so good to give back to this park that has been giving us so much for 37 years,” said Kenneth J. Podziba, president and CEO of Bike New York, who was born in Howard Beach. “We love Astoria Park so much, we love Queens so much.”

The Five Boro Bike Tour is scheduled to take place on Sunday, May 4, and begin in Lower Manhattan.

This year Bike NY’s bike tour, which allows 32,000 cyclists to wheel through all five boroughs on streets free of traffic, will be the city’s first sporting event and the nation’s second cycling event to be certified as sustainable by the Council for Responsible Sport after making the tour environmentally green.

The nonprofit has partnered with the city’s Department of Environmental Protection to provide riders with fresh city drinking water, eliminating the use of plastic bottles during the bike tour. Riders will also receive a kit that includes a compostable bike ID plate, recyclable bibs and a reusable helmet cover.

“Today is the first step in the right direction,” Podziba said during the April 22 tree planting. “We’re improving Astoria Park. We don’t just want it to be one year; we want to do this every year.”