Tag Archives: NYC Parks Department

Festival to celebrate World’s Fair anniversaries this Sunday


| editorial@queenscourier.com

Unisphere

DOROTHY LEWANDOWSKI

On Sunday, May 18, from 1 to 5:30 p.m., NYC Parks is celebrating two World’s Fair anniversaries — the 75th anniversary of the 1939 and the 50th anniversary of the 1964 — in Flushing Meadows Corona Park.

The giant one-day festival will offer inflatable rides, puppet shows, strolling magicians, tents filled with World’s Fair memorabilia, live cultural dance and music, history tours of World’s Fair icons in the park, great food and a place to record your own World’s Fair memories and photos.

From 5:30 to 9 p.m., stay for a free concert by the Liverpool Shuffle, a Beatles tribute band, followed by the Queens Symphony Orchestra and a skyful of fireworks. If you plan to ride the 7 subway, you might find yourself on one of the actual World’s Fair cars from the 1964 Fair — the MTA is returning it to service May 18 only to celebrate the day.

The Fairs are gone, but Flushing Meadows Corona Park, the World’s Park, remains.

Since 2002, NYC Parks has spent nearly $89 million on dozens of capital improvements to the park, and this important work continues. Some are renovations or new uses for World’s Fair legacy structures.

Originally built for the 1939 Fair, the Boathouse on Meadow Lake is now home to the Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival, which holds its annual race in August; the American Small Craft Association, offering sailing; and Row New York. From the 1964 World’s Fair, the Unisphere remains, its three rings circling the globe to represent the first three satellites to orbit the earth. Terrace on the Park, once Port Authority’s T-shaped heliport, now serves as a catering hall with remarkable views. Information about many more structures and works of art in the park can be found on a visit or by going to www.nyc.gov/parks and searching World’s Fair.

How much does New York love Flushing Meadows Corona Park and its treasures? On April 22, 2014, as Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, Assemblywoman Margaret Markey, local elected officials and community leaders cut the ribbon on the anniversary season, 2,500 people lined up to step inside the New York State Pavilion’s “Tent of Tomorrow,” where they could re-imagine the happiness, hope and promise of that beautiful spring when the 1964 Fair first opened.

Join us to celebrate it all at the World’s Fair Anniversary Festival Sunday in Flushing Meadows Corona Park.

See you in the park!

Dorothy Lewandowski is Queens Parks Commissioner for NYC Parks.

 

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Millions needed to save New York State Pavilion: Parks Department


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of People for the New York State Pavilion Facebook page

The city’s Parks Department presented plans this week for the crumbling but iconic New York State Pavilion.

An option to tear down the deteriorating 1964-65 World’s Fair figure, which is in need of an inordinate amount of internal and external fixes, could cost $14 million.

But a plan to restore the site could cost $73 million, according to a Parks study.

Architectural firm Perkins + Will created an “adaptive reuse” concept, which would modify the site and add event spaces and landscaped paths.

Parks detailed a plan to stabilize the towers by replacing perimeter walls, elevator shafts and equipment and bringing all electrical up to code.

People for the Pavilion, an advocacy group for the site, feels the “best action would be to make it an institution, a cultural center that can be used for future generations,” said member Matthew Silva.

Another option would stabilize the Observation Towers and the Tent of Tomorrow for $43 million, prohibiting public access.

Silva countered that plan and said that “certainly stabilizing it is something that is nice, but then it’s not something that can be utilized.”

“We want to advocate for making that part of the park a usable and very lively place. It should be used in a dynamic way,” he said.

Additionally, a tentative plan to restore the Pavilion to again include access to the Tent and Towers, will climb to about $52 million.

Costs quoted for preliminary plans are rough estimates, said a Parks spokesperson. The department will accept feedback at community meetings. Dates will be announced soon.

 

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Art project to transform space under 7 train


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Darren Goins

Darren Goins is taking his art to the street.

In a joint project with the Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Boys and Girls Clubs of Astoria and Sunnyside, Long Island City artist Goins will present his work underneath the No. 7 train at a pedestrian plaza. The project, located at 46th Street and Queens Boulevard, is part of DOT’s Urban Art program.

“It feels great and it’s great working with kids because they are incredibly creative,” said Goins.

The Urban Art program is a DOT partnership with community groups and artists to transform landscapes in all five boroughs. Projects transform public plazas, fences, barriers, footbridges and sidewalks into temporary canvases.

The idea for Goins’ project, entitled “Flexible,” came from an initiative to create a design both “physically and mentally interactive.” He was particularly inspired by the kind of workout equipment you would find at the gym.

“Working with the kids at the Boys and Girls Club, I put together workshops that included collage exercises, drawing and model building,” said Goins. “We found various ways to represent common forms into physically imagined interactive puzzles.”

Among the three sculptures being installed at the site, one is from those workshops.

“It was a learning experience,” said Goins. The children “learned a lot in the process, and I learned a lot from them.”

The completed project will feature three free-standing sculptures made of steel, paint and lumber. Working with the NYC Parks Department, the project will also feature rubber mats to keep participants safe.

Goins hopes to have the sculptures installed by mid-June. The project is scheduled to stay up for a full year.

 

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Queensbridge Park Seawall restoration breaks ground


| editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of the NYC Parks Department

Local officials, community groups and residents gathered to break ground on the restoration and improvement of the Queensbridge Park Seawall last week.

Along with reconstructing the seawall, the $6.65 million project will include a six-foot wide waterfront promenade with benches and plants as well as a small pier at the north end.

“The much-anticipated repair of the Queensbridge Park Seawall will provide additional storm protection for the Long Island City community, while also improving their access to the waterfront,” Parks Commissioner Veronica M. White said during the Friday, May 10 event.

The seawall protected Queensbridge Park in Long Island City from high tides and covered some of the mechanisms and underwater cables that keep a number of subway lines in order. It is currently blocked off by a chain-linked fence due to deterioration.

“For too long, the only view of this waterfront has been through a chain-linked fence,” said Congressmember Carolyn Maloney. “Queensbridge Park will now be a gateway to the waterfront instead of a dead end.”

Restoring the seawall will serve recreational purposes for residents. It is also designed to guard against natural disasters such as Sandy.

The project, managed by the NYC Economic Development Corporation, will reconstruct the seawall using large rocks. They will protect the shoreline by absorbing and deflecting waves while lessening the effect of erosion, the Parks Department said.

The restoration and improvement is funded through allocations from Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, Borough President Helen Marshall, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the MTA.

“The project will make this area safer, greener and more attractive while providing more protection from storm damage in the event of another hard-hitting superstorm like Sandy,” Marshall said during the event.

“Today we celebrate the beginning of the project as we look forward to its completion.”

 

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Op-Ed: Let’s not make a deal


| oped@queenscourier.com

BY GEOFFREY CROFT

In a recent op-ed (“A new alliance for Flushing Meadows-Corona Park,” March 10) Councilmember Julissa Ferreras argues for the need to create a new nonprofit alliance dedicated for Flushing Meadows-Corona Park (FMCP).

The alliance would collect money from the USTA and other businesses using the park and spend it exclusively on the park. Agreeing to a deal that puts money into a park fund in exchange for a yes vote, along with a few other “concessions”  is a misguided policy that would allow the USTA to expand and set the stage for more businesses to try and take more public parkland.

That is exactly what is not needed for the park.

It is the city’s legal responsibility to properly fund our public parks, not that of private businesses.

Make no mistake this is NOT like the Central Park Conservancy or the Prospect Park Alliance model as she has attempted to claim.  There is a huge difference between receiving philanthropic contributions from civic-minded people seeking nothing in return and establishing a fund explicitly created for extracting money from businesses exploiting the park.

She said she is doing this to “to help protect this irreplaceable park.”  The park does not need this type of “protection.”

A detailed plan on how this alliance model could work has already been drawn up.  It was devised with the help of a Parks Department partner group New Yorkers for Parks, in concert with the councilmember, working behind closed doors.

Despite repeated requests Ferreras has refused to voluntarily provide a copy of this plan.  For the first time in 15 years I’ve had to resort to FOILing a councilmember. This is not a good sign.

These deals only weaken communities and make it easier for the next encroachment. They also allow the very people whose job it is to properly fund and protect our public spaces off the hook.

The councilmember was correct, though, when she said the park has not received the attention and resources it deserves.

Whose fault is that? Does anyone think our elected officials are doing their jobs when FMCP has only 14 employees for a 1,200-acre park?  That’s disgraceful.

Each year our elected officials allocate a fraction of the funds desperately needed to properly maintain, operate, secure, and program our 29,000 acres of public parks.

This year is no different.  Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s current $70.1 billion proposed budget allocates just $ 283.2 million or o.4 % in tax levy funds for parks.

Over the last 40 years no other city agency has lost a greater percentage of its workforce than the Parks Department.  This happens year after because the public does NOT demand accountability.

The city continues to try and abdicate its responsibilities by entering in these public/private agreements that officials are not only allowing but actively encouraging.  They are increasingly resorting to these pay-to-play funding schemes.  This welfare mentality has to stop.

These deals hand over enormous power and decision making authority to these groups with little transparency and accountability on what is supposed to be public land.

We need our elected officials instead to allocate proper resources for our parks; it’s what the public pays taxes for.

Until communities begin to stand together and demand accountability from officials and “so called” park advocacy groups, the public can expect more of the same – our parks being sold out.

Geoffrey Croft is the founder and president of NYC Park Advocates, a non-profit watchdog group dedicated to improving public parks. He is also a founding member of Save Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, a coalition of community-based civic and environmental groups opposed to the commercial encroachment of FMCP.   

 

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Flood-resistant buildings to be installed on Rockaway Beach


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Rendering courtesy of NYC Parks & Recreation

This summer it will be safe to go back in the water.

Improved beachfront structures that adhere to the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) new flood elevation standards will be installed at Rockaway Beach by Memorial Day weekend, according to the New York City Parks Department.

These modern-looking lifeguard stands, comfort stations and offices will also be placed at Brooklyn’s Coney Island and Staten Island’s Midland, Cedar Grove and Wolfe’s Pond Beaches.

“We simply don’t know how high sea levels will rise in future years. Building higher will help these new public amenities stand the test of time,” said the Parks Department in a January newsletter.

Sitting on top of concrete piles, the structures will be seven to 14 feet above ground level and four feet above boardwalk height at seven of the Rockaway sites and eight feet at another Rockaway location. They can withstand another storm surge similar to Sandy.

The structures, designed by Brooklyn-based Garrison Architects, will be installed at 15 different beach locations. Each of the 17 buildings will consist of two modular units that will be connected by a bridge.

 

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More patrol officers coming to city parks


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

File photo

Officials from the Parks Department announced it will be adding 81 new Parks Enforcement Patrol officers (PEP) to help prevent crime in greenspaces around the city. Parks Commissioner Veronica White and Queens Parks Commissioner Dorothy Lewandowski made the announcement at the monthly meeting of the Astoria Civic Association.

Councilmember Peter F. Vallone Jr., chair of the Public Safety Committee, said he has been working to achieve this addition for over a year.

“Crime is rising in our parks, and a handful of officers to keep an entire borough of parkland safe just won’t cut it,” said Vallone.

He also said that last summer, he found out only one PEP officer was assigned to patrol parks in Queens.

“I’m glad the city has finally decided to hire more PEP officers, but we have to make sure Queens gets enough of them to keep people safe,” said Vallone.

The Parks Department hopes to have officers out in the parks by the middle of the summer after they receive training.

“These new officers will patrol parks in all of the five boroughs and will almost double the number of city-funded officers that we have on patrol,” said a Parks Department spokesperson.

 

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Indicted former park administrator Estelle Cooper dies


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

File photo

Estelle Cooper, the longtime administrator of Flushing  Meadows-Corona Park who was  alleged to have stolen $50,000 from an organization she  established, died on Saturday,  December 29. She was a 82.  Cooper, who was accused of  taking money from her conservatory group, Unisphere Inc.,  oversaw the borough’s largest  park for nearly two decades before stepping down in January  2011.

In 2003, she helped establish Unisphere Inc., a 501(c) (3) organization that worked on  sprucing up and restoring the  park. It was through this organization that Cooper was accused  of misspending funds — mainly  through ATM withdrawals that  were not accounted for when  the conservancy’s 2010 taxes were done.

Rumors that Cooper would  be indicted for wrongful spending started swarming in June  of 2012. These were confirmed  when she was arraigned on  Tuesday, July 17 at the Queens Supreme Court. She was charged  with second- and third-degree  counts of grand larceny, and if convicted, she could have faced  up to 15 years in prison. She was  due back in court in February.

Despite the charges and allegations in the last few months  of her life, Cooper will also be  remembered for her dedication  to the park she oversaw since  the 1990s.  Mike Balsamo, speaking for  all of Cooper’s family, said the  late park administrator would  be missed and remembered for the years of service she gave to Flushing Meadows.

“While we mourn the loss of  a barrier-breaker,” he said, “We  also celebrate the life of a dedicated public servant and hope that Estelle’s 50-year legacy to  civic service offers an example  to young people around the  world that hard work can truly  make dreams come true. We ask  that you share in understanding  and kindly respect our privacy,  as we continue through one of  the hardest moments our family  will face.”

The Parks Department issued  a statement that expressed sorrow for Cooper’s passing and  sent its condolences to her
family.

“The Parks Department was  saddened to hear of Estelle  Cooper’s passing,” the statement read. “We extend our deepest sympathies to her family during this difficult time.”

 

 

 

 

Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

TODAY’S FORECAST

Wednesday: Partly cloudy in the morning, then mostly cloudy. High of 75. Breezy. Winds from the SSW at 15 to 20 mph. Chance of rain 30%. Wednesday night: Mostly cloudy with thunderstorms and rain showers in the evening, then partly cloudy with a chance of rain. Low of 63. Winds from the WSW at 10 to 15 mph shifting to the NW after midnight. Chance of rain 60%.

EVENT of the DAY: Making Humps & Bumps exhibition

This is the last day to see the exhibition Making Humps & Bumps at the Jamaica Center for Arts & Learning, featuring rendering photographs and models of the sculpture, presenting the process of making the public art sculpture behind the scenes. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Queens bike horror

A father of two biking to work in Queens died on his birthday yesterday after smashing into a truck, police said. Read more: New York Post

PCB leak worries at Queens school

A PCB leak at a school in Long Island City has parents and local leaders outraged. They gathered outside IS 204 on Tuesday morning to draw attention to the matter. Read more: Fox New York

New $2.3 million Elmhurst Park bathrooms have lots of style and room

So this is what a $2 million public bathroom looks like. The long-awaited comfort station at Elmhurst Park, with its edgy design and spacious bathrooms, has finally opened its doors. Read more: New York Daily News

City plans to open 5 new homeless shelters

New York City plans to open at least five new homeless shelters by the end of the year. The expansion is in response to a sharp increase in the homeless population. Read more: NBC New York

MTA announces schedule for potential fare hike public hearings

The MTA announced Tuesday scheduled dates for public hearings on its plan to raise fares. Read more: NY1

Controversial pro-Israel subway ads immediately defaced, stamped as hate speech

Some controversial subway ads have been up for just one day — and already, they’ve been vandalized and have generated thousands of complaints. Read more: CBS New York

Obama urges UN to confront roots of Muslim rage

President Barack Obama told world leaders Tuesday that attacks on U.S. citizens in Libya “were attacks on America,” and he called on them to join in confronting the root causes of the rage across the Muslim world. Read more: AP

 

 

Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

TODAY’S FORECAST

Wednesday: Overcast with thunderstorms and rain showers, then thunderstorms in the afternoon. High of 81. Winds from the SW at 10 to 15 mph. Chance of rain 80% with rainfall amounts near 0.4 in. possible. Wednesday night: Mostly cloudy in the evening, then partly cloudy. Low of 75. Winds from the West at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 20%.

EVENT of the DAY: Alobar’s Tomato Festival

All this week, Long Island City restaurant Alobar is honoring the harvest season with a rotating menu of tomato dishes supporting local farms at $30 per person for two courses and a cocktail or glass of wine. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Seven Queens schools slated for closure re-open this week

After months of uncertainty, many teachers at seven Queens high schools previously slated for closure are going back to work. Read more: New York Daily News 

Internet currency exchange biz owner gets jail for tax conviction

The owner of an Internet currency exchange business is going to prison on a tax conviction. U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara announced the two-year sentence today for Ilya Boruch of Forest Hills, Queens. Read more: New York Post

 School in Queens to serve “brunch”

he thought of having lunch, or as the principal of IS25 calls it “brunch,” at 9:45 in the morning is not going over well. Come Thursday, many students at the middle school in Auburndale, Queens will feast on roast chicken, rice and pinto beans, just two hours after their day. Read more: ABC New York

Juniper Valley Park plagued by trash, vandalism and under-aged drinking, civic leaders say

Underage boozing, vandalism and mounds of trash have plagued Juniper Valley Park all summer due to lack of Parks Enforcement Patrol officers, civic leaders say. Read more: New York Daily News

With City Council redistricting looming, activists unveil “Unity Map”

Activists are trying to protect the city’s minority groups as the City Council district lines are about to be redrawn. Minority advocate groups unveiled their so-called Unity Map Tuesday. Read more: NY1

Ed Koch being treated for anemia at New York Presbyterian

Former mayor Ed Koch was being treated at New York Presbyterian on the Upper West Side and will remain hospitalized for a few days after undergoing a blood transfusion, officials said Tuesday night. Read more: CBS New York

Airlines to face trial over 9/11

The AMR Corporation’s American Airlines and United Continental Holdings must face a federal trial over negligence claims tied to the hijacking of jetliners used in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, a federal judge ruled Tuesday. Read more: New York Times

Mrs. Obama: Husband knows what struggle means

Democrats are using one of Barack Obama’s strong suits, that voters believe he understands the problems of ordinary people, to trump his weakest suit, the economy. Read more: AP