Tag Archives: park

Upgrades coming for Woodhaven’s Mary Whalen Playground

| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

RIDGEWOOD TIMES/Photos by Anthony Giudice

For over a year, Forest Park’s Mary Whalen Playground, located near Forest Parkway and Park Lane South, has been awaiting repairs, but the wait will end next month.

On Aug. 18, Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley will be holding a groundbreaking ceremony at the Woodhaven play space in Forest Park to kick off the start of the renovation.

Crowley has allocated $1 million from City Council funding for the site, while the Parks Department added another $180,000 from the department’s budget to reconstruct the playground.

Mary Whalen Playground was built in the 1940s and sits at the bottom of a large hill that was formed by an Ice Age glacier hundreds of thousands of years ago. The semi-circular park last received renovations in 1991.

The park is named after Mary Whalen, who was the vice president of Community Board 9 and a one-time president of the Woodhaven Block Association. She also founded the Greater Woodhaven Development Corporation.

Currently, the park’s centerpiece, a spray shower water feature, has cracked asphalt surrounding it. The concrete wall near Park Lane South is eroding, and certain play equipment is outdated, including the 10-foot swings that do not meet American Society for Testing Material standards.

The renovations will upgrade the park to include new play equipment, a new central water feature, separate areas for preschoolers and pre-teens, a new teen court play area near the back of the playground, and a secondary ramp into the park from Park Lane South that will adhere to the standards set forth by the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The project will also increase the green spaces of the playground by adding more canopy trees and repair the existing drainage system, perimeter walls and curbs.


Shots fired in South Ozone Park

| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

Shots were fired Monday night in South Ozone Park‘s  Police Officer Edward Byrne Park, according to police.

No one was hurt in the 8 p.m. shooting, and according to witnesses,  the shooter was a man who fired into the air, cops said. Officers recovered a bullet shell from the park and they were able to verify that nobody had been admitted to the hospital with the bullet.

Police noted that the shots fired come as a surprise to them because the area doesn’t have many shootings.

The park is currently sealed off as the investigation continues. No arrests have been made.




Community Board 7 votes to name park after fallen fire marshal

| mchan@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy Randall Wilson

A fallen Queens fire marshal may soon be honored in a way that would allow his young twin boys to grow up realizing their father’s legacy.

Community Board 7 voted Monday to name a playground in Fort Totten after Martin “Woody” McHale, 50, who died of a heart attack in his car Christmas Eve 2012.

McHale, who lived in Hollis Hills, suffered the attack on his way home from work and crashed his car into a tree less than 200 feet from his house, police and the Queens Medical Examiner’s office said.

“Woody was a role model. He was a mentor. He was a fireman’s fireman,” said his boss, Commander Randall Wilson of the FDNY’s Bureau of Fire Investigation. “His heart was always in the right place, and if more people had a heart like his, the world would be a much better place.”

McHale, a member of the FDNY for 23 years, was assigned to the bureau’s Citywide North Command in Fort Totten. He would bring his twin 4-year-old boys to the currently nameless playground next to his job on his days off, Wilson said.

“He only had a few short years to spend with his sons,” the fire commander said. “Many of those days were at the playground on Fort Totten. His boys loved it there and Woody cherished the time spent at the playground with them.”

The change needs to be approved by Mayor Bill de Blasio and the city’s Parks Department commissioner.

A bar in the West Village was named after McHale while he was alive.

“Having this park named in his honor would show generations of children just how wonderful he was,” Wilson said. “It would be a legacy for his family and for the fire marshal’s department.”

Community Board 7 also approved a $2.4 million capital Parks Department project to rebuild the crumbling sea wall at Hermon A. Macneil Park in College Point.

The City Council funded plans also include creating a separate fishing area and a kayak launch at the park. The plans still need state Department of Environmental Conservation approval.



Jogger tasered, sexually assaulted in Forest Park

| mchan@queenscourier.com


A woman was struck with a stun gun and then sexually assaulted Friday while jogging in a Queens park, police said.

The 23-year-old victim was taken to the hospital for neck injuries after the March 29 attack in Forest Park at about 7:30 p.m.

Police are looking for a white male suspect, who is between 35 to 40 years old.

He is described as being 5’9” and having a medium build, with reddish/brown hair and facial hair. He was last seen wearing a gold hoop earring, a navy blue hooded sweatshirt and navy blue track pants.

Fight for more park land in Maspeth

| brennison@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/photo by Billy Rennison

As the search for a new home for St. Saviour’s Church continues, officials are looking into turning the former site into a park — possibly through the use of Eminent Domain.

A warehouse currently sits on a corner of the one-and-a-half acre plot in Maspeth, which is owned by Maspeth Development, while the rest of the land remains undeveloped.

“It is a complete slap in the face that we have to stand here now and see this monstrosity,” said Geoffrey Croft, president of NYC Park Advocates.

Calls to the Maspeth Development went unreturned.
Plans for a park on 58th Street have been in the works since St. Saviour’s was removed in 2008, but each attempt to purchase the property has failed.

A Parks Department spokesperson said the agency is not looking to acquire the property at this time.

“We would be happy to examine any other suggested property acquisitions in the Maspeth community,” the spokesperson said.

“This community desperately needs more park space, and that’s not just a subjective feeling of people in the neighborhood, it’s a mathematical reality,” said Assemblymember Rory Lancman at a June 14 press conference with local leaders at the former site of St. Saviour’s.

The Parks Department said the goal is to ensure all New Yorkers live within a 10-minute walk of a park.

“Maspeth needs 88 acres of park land and they only have 12, do the math,” said Lorraine Scuilli, vice president of the Juniper Park Civic Association. “This should be a park any way we can get it.”

One of the ways to get the land for a park would be Eminent Domain, which was used just blocks away from the St. Saviour’s site for the reconstruction of the Kosciuszko Bridge.

If the land is secured, rebuilding the church, which currently sits in two trailers a few blocks away from the site, is a possibility. St. Saviour’s was deconstructed in 2008 after an attempt to landmark the church failed and the property was sold.

Jackson Heights to get more park space

| aaltman@queenscourier.com


Officials and civic groups from Jackson Heights, a neighborhood parched for play space, have persuaded the city to purchase a school yard and turn it into a park.

The Jackson Heights Green Alliance, along with the help of Councilmember Daniel Dromm and the Jackson Heights Beautification Group, acquired a 2,600-square-foot patch of asphalt from the Garden School, nearly doubling the area’s amount of park space.

“Jackson Heights has a critical shortage of park space,” said Dudley Stewart, president of the Jackson Heights Green Alliance. “It is dramatically underserved.”

When the Jackson Heights Green Alliance discovered the Garden School was looking to sell its lot to a private developer in February 2011, it stepped up and threw in a bid. Shortly after, the Grow a Park Campaign formed, fighting for open space in the neighborhood. With monetary assistance from private foundations and nearly half a million dollars in pledges, the group purchased the Garden School’s lot.

Councilmember Daniel Dromm has eyed the spot for a possible park ever since 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.

“I feel it’s a promise fulfilled,” said Dromm. “When I came into office I immediately began to think about how to create more green space. I promised the community we would have to think out of the box.”

This newly-bought space is adjacent to 78th Street Play Street – a car-free zone open for play during the summer months. For the fourth year in a row, 78th Street between 34th Avenue and Northern Boulevard will be transformed into an open area for kids and adults alike.

“It’s almost double the space between the lot and the play street,” said Stewart. “It’s a huge benefit. It’s not just for families with kids, it’s for the entire community.”

The Jackson Heights Green Alliance recently won the Department of Transportation’s public plaza program which designs and constructs permanent, year-round parks. According to Stewart, this marks the first time in the program’s history that the grant has been awarded to a civic group rather than a Business Improvement District.

Stewart says the next step is to install a fence around the space so the public can access it freely. During school hours, the Garden School will retain exclusive access. During the rest of the year, it will be open to the entire community.

“We hope it’s going to be great,” said Stewart. “We’ve got our fingers crossed.”

Oakland Lake Park path to receive much-needed work

| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Oakland Park

It took nearly two decades, but the makeover is almost complete.

The Parks Department announced plans for a $1.6 million remodeling of the pathway around Oakland Lake Park at a recent Community Board 11 meeting, ending a 16-year initiative to revitalize the park and allowing locals to finally enjoy the wetland.

“I’m very relieved,” said Jerry Iannece, chair of Community Board 11. “We are getting completion on a project we’ve been working on for almost two decades.”

The Department of Environmental Protection [DEP] spent years rebuilding and cleaning the ecosystem of the lake and created a park booming with wildlife for locals to enjoy, except there was no dry path to walk on.

The trail is flooded and overrun with mud and grime, making for an unstable surface that is difficult to walk through and spoils footwear, say park-goers.

“Oakland Park is a natural wonder,” said Vince Tabone, general counsel of the Friends of Oakland Lake and Ravine. “It’s a unique experience to take friends and family. It takes away from the full experience that you have mud on the pathway.”

The Oakland Lake Path Improvement plan involves building a new raised boardwalk around the lake and imputing drainage pipes under the path to prevent flooding from excess water running down the park’s slope, according to a Parks spokesperson.

The agency expects to start the project by spring 2013 after a review by the Department of Environmental Conservation and awarding a private contractor the bid.

It should be ready for residents within a year of this process, according to representatives from the department.

No one is more proud about the new path than Iannece, who is running for the 25th Assembly District seat. He has been leading the charge to protect the park since 1996 when he was president of the Bayside Hills Civic Association.

With the completion of the walkway set for the near future, Baysiders can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel.

“I could bring my kids here and we could do the nature walk,” said Bayside resident Jorge Chong. “It’s the only park around here with a lake.”


New park unveiled in Dutch Kills

| mpantelidis@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer:

The city has reinvented “parking” in Dutch Kills.

Elected officials united on April 4 to officially unveil a new park in the community, Dutch Kills Green at Queens Plaza – which was a former John F. Kennedy Airport commuter parking lot. The space, which is one-and-a-half acres large, extends along Queens Plaza North and Queens Plaza South and from Northern Boulevard and Queens Plaza East west to 21st Street in Long Island City.

The project broke ground in 2009, and includes 489 new trees, wetlands, landscaped medians, artist-designed benches and a great deal of open space. Pedestrian, bicycle and roadway improvements were made as well, with the installation of new crosswalks and sidewalks, countdown pedestrian signals and improved lighting aimed at enhancing the overall traffic environment

While looking towards the neighborhood’s future, the project also commemorates its past by incorporating an active reuse of historic millstones – previously embedded in a traffic island of the parking lot – allowing residents to appreciate the borough’s agricultural significance.

“The opening of the park at Queen Plaza represents the ongoing transformation of an area which is the gateway of Queens,” said Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer, who represents L.I.C. “That gateway should be as inviting as the people of Queens. This park is an expansion of a neighborhood green space that will be an oasis for residents and workers alike. This is a great day for Dutch Kills, Queens Plaza and all of L.I.C.”

Queens’ Morning Roundup – 10/21/2011: Former Libyan dictator Moammar Khadafy dead

| jlane@queenscourier.com

The Round Up

Woman fatally stabbed, 2 teens injured in Rockaways

The NYPD is investigating a stabbing spree in Queens in which a woman was killed and two teenage girls were injured. Police say the three were attacked on Beach 96th Street in the Rockaways. Police say the woman, 48-year-old Elizabeth Harris of Queens, suffered a stab wound to the abdomen and a laceration to the head. She was taken to a hospital where she later died. Read More: Wall Street Journal


You can name a Queens park

The New York City Economic Development Corp. is asking residents to dub the 1.5 acre open space at the eastern end of Queens Plaza in Long Island City. The contest is open to New York City residents. The winning name will be selected by city representatives and the local community. Read More: Queens Courier


Former Libyan dictator Moammar Khadafy dead

The former Libyan dictator Moammar Khadafy was killed Thursday, according to the country’s prime minister. Reports early yesterday morning indicated that Khadafy was either captured or dead. Later Al-Jazeera showed footage of a man resembling the former leader bleeding from gunshot wound to the head. Read More: Queens Courier


Queens Courier’s Best of the Boro: Health & Beauty nominations now open

Health is your greatest asset, but sorting through the myriad of doctors is often a fool’s errand. Now, residents who think their doctor or salon is the best can make the opinions heard by nominating them through November 17. Click here to nominate.

You can name a Queens park

| mchan@queenscourier.com

Now, you can name a piece of Queens.

The New York City Economic Development Corp. is asking residents to dub the 1.5 acre open space at the eastern end of Queens Plaza in Long Island City.

The contest is open to New York City residents. The winning name will be selected by city representatives and the local community.

Click here to submit your entry. The contest will be open until 5 p.m. on October 26.

The name will be unveiled at the park’s official ribbon-cutting event and the winner will have the opportunity to meet Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

The former John F. Kennedy parking lot has recently been transformed with over $45 million in roadway, sidewalk, and bikeway improvements. The L.I.C. park features wetlands, native plantings, artist-designed benches and paving.

Residents and officials fight for Forest Park Carousel

| brennison@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of the Woodhaven Resident's Block Association

Local residents and officials hope to save the Forest Park Carousel from the glue factory.

The Forest Park Carousel remains dark as the Parks Department has received no viable proposal from vendors to run the historic ride.

The Parks Department said it will conduct “extensive outreach” to find a suitable vendor and plans to re-release the Request for Proposal (RFP), though no date has been set.

The carousel has not been operated since 2009 when its vendor, New York One, did not renew its contract.

As local residents eagerly await a new vendor to operate the ride, they are making sure their message is not forgotten.

The 50 “Save the Forest Park Carousel” T-shirts, at $10 a piece, quickly sold out at the Woodhaven Street Fair on Sunday, October 16.

The hot item is a great way to allow the residents to help support the fight for the carousel, said Ed Wendell, president of the Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association.

Residents that were not able to purchase the shirts there can order them by calling the Woodhaven Resident’s Block Association’s office at 718-296-3735.

The money raised from the shirts will be funneled back into trying to get the carousel up and running.

“This is three full summers in a row that it has been closed. People are frustrated now that another year has gone by and there is still no closure,” Wendell said.

Assemblymember Mike Miller is working on a plan that would allow a nonprofit take over the concessions. He has scheduled a meeting with the Parks Department to discuss the plan.

“People within the community have fond memories of the carousel and they want to see it put to good use,” the assemblymember said. “It’s disappointing that we can’t find someone to run the carousel.”

Wendell would like to see the carousel running – even if it is just once a month.

“Turn it on once a month; pick a Saturday,” he said. “We can get volunteers that will work for the carousel. The community will support it.

“It’s part of our shared history; it’s part of our community,” Wendell said. “We’ve come close to losing it permanently twice and people are scared that this is going to be it. Could this be the last we see of [the carousel]?”

Long Island City DOG RUN fetches upgrades

| amanning@queenscourier.com

Tails are wagging as renovations are underway at the Vernon Boulevard Dog Run in Long Island City. Major improvements are being made to enhance the look and safety of the dog run.
Senator Michael Gianaris, Assemblymember Catherine Nolan, and Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer partnered with the New York State Department of Parks and Dog Owner Group Long Island City (DOG LIC), a local advocacy group, last year to bring about their vision of a refurbished dog run.

All of the elected officials pointed to LIC’s ever-growing population as one of the main factors that pushed the renovation of the park.
“This new dog run will provide a much needed service for the many dog owners in the growing and vibrant neighborhood of Long Island City,” said Van Bramer.

The restorations, which will only close the park for approximately two weeks, include more than doubling the space of the dog run from 4,000 to 10,000 square feet. A new gravel surface will make it more suitable for dogs to run, and large and small dogs will have separate fenced-off areas in which to play. After an active day at the park, owners and their dogs will be able to refresh themselves at the drinking fountains being installed.
New light fixtures, covered trash cans and railings surrounding existing trees will not only protect the safety of the dogs, but also maintain the aesthetics of the dog run. Shade structures will also be added by mid-October.

“As more young families move to LIC, it is important that neighborhood amenities keep up with the positive changes taking place throughout the community, said Gianaris. “The refurbishment of this dog run is a reflection of LIC’s development as a hospitable, animal-loving community.”

“We expect the community of dogs and dog owners to run and play off-leash for many years to come,” said Rose Harvey, Department of Parks Commissioner, adding that these renovations will make vast improvements to the popular dog run, and are anticipated to benefit residents for a long time.

Long Island City dog run groomed

| smosco@queenscourier.com


A place to meet and socialize is important for members from all Queens communities – even four-legged ones. That is why elected officials and community leaders transformed a once “ruff” looking dog run into one that canines will agree is through the “roof.”

“This is great. There is so much more space,” said Mitzi Copeland, a Long Island City resident whose dog Stanley took full advantage of a completely-refurbished Vernon Boulevard Dog Run. “She usually meets her friends here and now they have a lot more room to run.”

Stanley and her friends joined Senator Michael Gianaris, Assemblymember Catherine Nolan and Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer for a ribbon cutting ceremony on Thursday, October 6.

Renovations to the park and dog run include new separate fenced-off areas for large and small dogs, drinking fountains for dogs and their owners, new lighting, new covered trash cans, shade structures, leveled-off grounds and a new dog-friendly gravel surface – all of it situated in a space more than double the size of the old run.

Sadie, a Bermese Mountain dog, showed her howling appreciation with a few hearty romps before sprawling on the ground while her friends bounded around.

“This is the Rolls Royce of dog parks,” said Sadie’s owner’s father, Laurence. “They need more places like this – dogs need to socialize, they need exercise in order to be happy.”

There were plenty of happy dogs present, including one very friendly dog named Reese who welcomed Van Bramer and Gianaris with a very wet token of her appreciation.

“Thank you Reese for the big kiss when I got here. It was a very special moment for all of us,” said Van Bramer. “This new dog run will give the many dog owners in the growing and vibrant neighborhood of Long Island City a newly designed and expanded space for dogs and their owners to exercise safely in.”

Construction on the park cost $150,000 and was funded by the Queens West Development Corporation (QWDC) with collaboration from New York State Parks Department and DOG LIC.

“Dog lovers rejoice!” said Gianaris. “The new Vernon Boulevard Dog Run makes it clear that Long Island City is a pet-friendly community. As western Queens continues to grow and develop more resources for community use, I encourage everyone to visit this new dog run and experience for themselves all the great things this park and the surrounding neighborhood have to offer.”