Tag Archives: Parks Department

LIC public art looks to raise awareness about homelessness


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy of Fanny Allié

Residents and visitors in Long Island City looking for a place to sit will get more than just that when coming into contact with a new public art installation aiming to raise awareness about homelessness.

Brooklyn artist Fanny Allié has come together with the Parks Department to display her most recent artwork called “A Bench for the Night” at the NYC Parks Greenstreet on Jackson Avenue and 46th Avenue.

Allié’s piece, which will be on view through November, is a wooden bench shaped in the silhouette of a sleeping person, reminding those who see is that a public bench serves as a potential bed for some New Yorkers.

“A Bench for the Night,” Allié’s second artwork with that Parks Department’s Art in the Parks program, offers viewers a look into how individuals who live on the street can often become dehumanized.

This piece is a continuation of the artist’s focus on the issue of homelessness. She took part in the Engaging Artists Residency in 2014 organized by the Artist Volunteer Center and More Art, which largely focused on homelessness. During this residency, artists were encouraged to engage in volunteer opportunities – volunteering at least half a day per week at a local charity – and interactive workshops with professionals in the fields of fine art and activism.

Allié’s Long Island City art installation is also a continuation of her 2011 piece called “The Glowing Homeless,” created for Bring to Light NYC: Nuit Blanche in Brooklyn, and which featured a neon outline of a human form that rested of a park bench.

When preparing for the installation, Allié noticed the area where the piece would go lacked seating. Along with raising awareness for homelessness, she has also created a new social space in the plaza.

According to a description of “A Bench for the Night,” the piece looks to reflect a person’s desire to look for an isolated place to rest and be removed from the movement of the city.

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Flushing’s Bowne Playground to be redone


| asuriel@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of the NYC Parks Department

The Bowne Playground adjacent to P.S. 20 in Flushing is set to receive a multimillion-dollar renovation that will see the layout of the park completely updated and reimagined.

The design has been internally approved by the Parks Department, and is now going through the process of receiving comments and approval from external regulatory agencies after Community Board 7 voted Monday in favor of approving the project.

The Bowne Playground occupies 1.28 acres at Union Street between Barclay Avenue and Sanford Avenue. It is utilized by both neighborhood families and students at P.S. 20, which has an enrollment of around 1,400.

The renovation aims to create new park amenities and increase play opportunities for children of all ages, as well as upgrade existing features and create community space with flexible uses. The estimated end date for the project is set for 2017.

The new design will change the layout of the park to divide the area into several different sections for different activities and age groups. Currently, the playground contains a play area, a swing set, and basketball and handball courts that surround a multiuse paved space in the center of the playground.

The worn and cracked asphalt will be replaced, and two new play areas and swing sets for different age groups will be installed. The ball courts will remain, and new areas will be added, including a group of game tables, a space with adult fitness equipment, and an open area for community gatherings and events.

One of noticeable changes will be a new 4-foot wrought-iron exterior fence replacing the 12- and 16-foot chain-link fencing that currently encircles the playground’s perimeter. This switch was initially met with contention by some members of the community board who feared that lower barriers may pose a higher risk to children who might try to climb into the park and fall, or that teenagers might climb over in the nighttime after park hours.

Joanne Amagrande-Savarese, chief of staff to the Queens Parks Department commissioner, said that the department did not anticipate having problems with children climbing over the fences because it would be easy to get in through other entryways into the area. She added that in recent years the department has been trying make parks look less enclosed and more open to the community, and have largely been lowering the height of park fences to a four-foot standard in order to achieve this goal.

“What we’re trying to do right now is make our parks more inviting and more accessible,” said Amagrande-Savarese.

In addition to the new fences, the new playground will also be significantly greener, with twice as much permeable surface area to collect stormwater. There are currently trees only around the perimeter of the playground, and the new design will significantly increase the tree count to add more shade and differentiate between different areas of the park.

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Watch free movies at Queens parks


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

File photo

As the nights warm up, take advantage of the nicer weather with a free movie at a local park.

From this May through September, Queens residents can watch a variety of family-friendly flicks, including “The Lego Movie,”  “Frozen” and “Despicable Me 2.” Some showings will even offer popcorn, ices or refreshments.

Don’t forget to bring a blanket or chair, and keep checking back for an updated list of films.

Friday, May 15

“Annie” (PG)
Rochdale Park, Victor Hanson Recreation Center, Jamaica
7 p.m.
Popcorn and ices will be served.

Friday, May 29

“Space Jam” (PG)
Frederick B. Judge Playground, 134th Street, 135th Street, between 111th Avenue and Lincoln Street, Linden Boulevard, South Ozone Park
7 p.m.
Popcorn and ices will be served. Board games begin at 7:00 pm. Movie begins at dusk.

Friday, June 5

“The Lego Movie” (PG)
Crocheron Park at 35th Avenue and Cross Island Parkway, Bayside
(The movie will be shown at the grass area on 35th Avenue across from Golden Pond, where 35th Avenue dead ends by the Cross Island Parkway.)
8:30 p.m.

Friday, June 12

“Muppets Most Wanted” (PG)
Phil “Scooter” Rizzuto Park, Atlantic Avenue, 95th Avenue, between 127th and 125 streets, South Richmond Hill
7 p.m.
Popcorn and ices will be served. Board games begin at 7:00 pm. Movie begins at dusk.

“Frozen” (PG)
MacNeil Park, Poppenhusen Avenue, between 115 Street and College Place, College Point
8:30 p.m.

Tuesday, June 30

“Despicable Me 2” (PG)
Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson Community Garden, 117-15 165th St., Jamaica
8:30 p.m.
Complimentary popcorn will be provided. Movie begins between 8:30 p.m. and 9 p.m. at sunset.

Tuesday, July 7

“The Iron Giant” (PG)
Beach 17th Street and Seagirt Boulevard, Rockaway Beach and Boardwalk
(At the performance stage in O’Donohue Park)
8 p.m.
There will be refreshments.

“The Iron Giant” (PG)
Beach 17th Street and Boardwalk, Rockaway Beach and Boardwalk
8:30 to 11 p.m.
Complimentary popcorn will be provided. Movie begins between 8:30 p.m. and 9 p.m. at sunset.

Tuesday, Aug. 4

“Back to the Future Part II” (PG)
Beach 17th Street and Seagirt Boulevard, Rockaway Beach and Boardwalk
(At the performance stage in O’Donohue Park)
8 p.m.
There will be refreshments.

“Back to the Future Part II” (PG)
Beach 17th Street and Boardwalk (in Rockaway Beach and Boardwalk
8 p.m.
Complimentary popcorn will be provided. Movie begins between 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. at sunset.

Wednesday, Aug. 5

“Big Hero 6” (PG)
Flushing Meadows Corona Park, 111th Street and 53rd Avenue
(On the grass area near the carousel)
8 p.m.

Wednesday, Aug. 19

“Guardians of the Galaxy” (PG-13)
Flushing Meadows Corona Park, 111th Street and 53rd Avenue
(On the grass area near the carousel)
8 p.m.

Sunday, Aug. 26

“Big Hero 6” (PG)
Highland Park at Elton Street and Jamaica Avenue, Cypress Hills near the Brooklyn/Queens border
7:30 p.m.

Wednesday, Sept. 2

“Big Hero 6” (PG)
Forest Park at George Seuffert Bandshell, Woodhaven Boulevard and Forest Park Drive
7:30 p.m.

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Ridgewood civic focuses on bike lanes and local businesses


| editorial@ridgewoodtimes.com

TIMES NEWSWEEKLY/Photo by Kelly Marie Mancuso

BY KELLY MARIE MANCUSO

Transit, tenants and trees took center stage during a three-part presentation hosted by the Ridgewood Property Owners and Civic Association (RPOCA) on Thursday at the Ridgewood Older Adult Center.

Community Board 5 Public Transit Committee Co-Chair John Maier explained plans for new bike routes connecting Ridgewood and Glendale with other parts of Queens, including Rego Park. The RPOCA first requested the bicycle routes back in 2011. The Department of Transportation and Community Board 5 created a forum in 2013 to gather community input and feedback regarding preferred routes.

The first option for the proposed bike route plan would connect Ridgewood to Rego Park via various roadways in Middle Village. According to Maier, special road markings would be installed along Metropolitan Avenue and 69th Street. Eliot Avenue, however, is slated to receive actual designated bike lanes.

Option two would connect Glendale to Rego Park via 80th Street. Maier voiced safety concerns over the use of Dry Harbor Road for part of the proposed route and cited the narrowness of the roadway as being potentially problematic.

New pedestrian and bike passageways are also part of the Kosciusko Bridge Project, which began in 2014. Improvements also include the installation of a double suspension bridge aimed at increasing traffic flow.

Maier also announced that work may begin within the next one and a half years on long-awaited progress on the reconstruction of the bridge carrying Metropolitan Avenue and Fresh Pond Road over Long Island Rail Road tracks on the Ridgewood/Middle Village border. Originally planned in 2005 but delayed repeatedly, he told residents the project has been fully funded and is in the final design phase.

Maier also pleaded for help from the community in getting the stalled Wyckoff Avenue reconstruction moving. The project would implement much-needed street repairs and sewer/water line replacement along Wyckoff Avenue between Flushing and Cooper Avenues.  He asked community members to act as advocates for the project and request sponsorship from local elected officials.

Ted Renz, Community Board 5 member and executive director of the Myrtle Avenue Business Improvement District (BID), also spoke about changes and initiatives in Ridgewood’s busiest commercial district. According to Renz, the BID is experiencing an influx of new tenants and residential construction.

Renz cited ongoing residential development, including the 135-unit building slated for St. Nicholas Avenue, as well as two fully occupied 45-unit buildings on Putnam and Myrtle Avenues, as evidence of the commercial district’s popularity among a new wave of younger tenants.

“We want a balanced community,” he said. “If you don’t have young people, then you’re a dying community. Living over a store, which nobody wanted years ago, is now becoming chic and popular.”

In addition to attracting new residents to the BID, Renz also hopes to apply for a grant from the New York Main Street Program, a state-sponsored revitalization effort, in the future. Renz hopes to pursue the program once he receives a strong commitment from local retail owners.

Finally, RPOCA Director Maryellen Borello sounded the call for volunteers to help with the Parks Department tree count in a 200-block radius in Ridgewood. According to Borello, the Ridgewood tree count will take place from June through August. Those interested in volunteering can visit www.rpoca.org for details.

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NYS Pavilion to get free paint job


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Angy Altamirano

Updated Wednesday, May 6, 1:30 p.m. 

The city Parks Department and Queens Borough President Melinda Katz announced Wednesday morning the latest efforts to spruce up the New York State Pavilion at Flushing Meadows Corona Park.

Katz and Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver will herald a new partnership with two local labor unions — the New York Structural Steel Painting Contractors Association and the International Union of Painting and Allied Trades Local 806 District 9 — to repaint the upper portions of the Tent of Tomorrow, the elliptical steel building in the shadow of the pavilion’s space needles.

“Flushing Meadows Corona Park’s Tent of Tomorrow is an iconic symbol of Queens, but we haven’t been able to give it the treatment it deserves until now,” Silver said. “Thanks to a partnership with the Structural Steel Painters Union, the building is being restored and beautified so that it may remain a source of pride for the entire borough, and a reminder of the World’s Fairs, for years to come.”

The new paint system of the pavilion, which is expected to be completed by this fall, will serve as a protective coating and extend the life of the structure by at least 15 years.

The $3 million effort will be undertaken free of charge through a painting apprenticeship program operated by the unions, allowing painters to gain work experience.

“Due to the tremendous generosity of Painters DC 9 and the Painting Contractors Association, the pavilion will be refreshed with a new coat of paint,” Katz said. “We’re working hard to save this architectural marvel, and the facelift is a great boon to our efforts. We will restore this national treasure into a visible icon befitting the ‘World’s Borough’ for generations of families and visitors to enjoy.”

In recent years, local volunteers and historians have advocated for refurbishing the pavilion, one of the last remaining fixtures of the 1964-65 World’s Fair. The pavilion’s space needles served as observation decks, while the Tent of Tomorrow — once featuring a stained-glass roof and a terrazzo tile roadmap of New York State — was an entertainment venue.

The Tent of Tomorrow was used sporadically for years after the fair’s conclusion, but fell into disrepair along with the rest of the pavilion over the last few decades.

Full restoration of the pavilion is estimated to cost at least $43 million, according to a Parks Department announcement last November. Katz, Mayor Bill de Blasio and the City Council have already secured a combined $6 million in funds to repair the towers and its electrical infrastructure.

A group of volunteers also formed the New York State Pavilion Paint Project to provide short-term renovations while Katz and other city officials worked on a long-term plan for the pavilion’s rehabilitation.

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Local artist to donate ceramic tile installation to Astoria Heights Park


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Penelope Eleni

A mother of three is making her way back into the art world by creating an art installation that will bloom at a local Astoria community park.

Penelope Eleni, a sculptor and ceramist from Astoria, is coming together to with the city’s Parks Department and the Friends of Astoria Heights Park to present a temporary installation of ten ceramic tiles at the western Queens park.

The installation, which will be on view through November, will be located at Astoria Heights Park’s Butterfly Garden at 30th Road and 46th Street.

Last year, Eleni won a grant from the Queens Council on the Arts to create a public installation and she has decided to donate it to the group of neighbors that make up Friends of Astoria Heights Park.

She said she wanted to make artwork that was accessible to the community and aimed at children, who would be able to touch and explore the tiles.

“[Friends of Astoria Heights Park ] were so friendly and willing to work for me and they’ve done so many great things for the park and I couldn’t have done it without them,” Eleni said.

Along with helping beautify Astoria Heights Park, this art installation also serves as a way for Eleni to get back into creating art after having to put everything on hold while raising her son and twin daughters.

Eleni is a former professor of art and elementary school art teacher with a Master of Fine Arts in ceramics.

“They gave me a gift to get back into it,” Eleni said. “They gave me permission to become an artist again, it meant more to me at this point of my life than it would have coming out of graduate school.”

The tiles that make up the installation illustrate the story written by Eleni about her visit to Socrates Sculpture Park during the Halloween Harvest Festival. Each tile depicts encounters with men in funny hats, dogs in costume, dancing, and her children playing with other kids.

“The whole piece all around is all about the years I spent sitting on my living room floor changing diapers and taking long strolls through New York with my kids,” Eleni said.

A celebration of Eleni’s installation is expected to take place on May 30 from 11 a.m. to noon at the park’s playground at 30th Road and 46th Street.

For more information, visit www.facebook.com/PenelopeEleni.

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Improvements underway at Jamaica’s Rufus King Park


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

NYC Parks/photo by Malcolm Pinckney

Jamaica’s “town square” is about to get a much-needed makeover.

The Parks Department along with local elected officials ceremonially broke ground Monday on a $2.2 million renovation of Rufus King Park located in an area bounded by Jamaica and 89th avenues between 150th and 153rd streets.

At the heart of the project is reconstruction of the park’s gazebo, which will include a new roof, handrails, steps and a brick platform. The gazebo’s electrical system will also be enhanced to better accommodate various events.

The Parks Department will also resurface and reconfigure the green space’s asphalt pathways to improve pedestrian circulation. New trees and shrubs will be planted throughout the park, and the agency will also create a new lawn both for leisure and athletic activity.

Many of those funding the Rufus King Park project, including Queens Borough President Melinda Katz and City Councilman Rory Lancman, helped Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver, Community Board 12 District Manager Yvonne Reddick and others officially launch the renovation’s start Monday.

“Thanks to the generous funding allocated by the City Council, the Borough President’s office, Jamaica’s residents will be able to enjoy a renovated and revitalized open space with a new gazebo that will serve as a beautiful gathering place for this diverse neighborhood,” Silver said.

“Rufus King Park is like the town square of Jamaica, a central point for anyone of the vibrant and diverse community to enjoy,” Katz added. “The investment of public funds into this neighborhood treasure is very much a part of the Jamaica Now Action plan fully underway, a 21-point strategic plan intended to revitalize Jamaica into a thriving residential neighborhood.”

The 11-acre park was once part of the estate of Rufus King, a colonial lawyer, abolitionist and statesman who was among the signers of the Constitution. The Village of Jamaica purchased King Manor and surrounding land in 1896 for $50,000; the site was subsequently acquired by the City of New York two years later as Jamaica became part of the city.

King Manor stands today not only as a colonial museum, but also for various cultural events attended by thousands of people annually. The house is an official city landmark and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Rufus King Park’s last major renovation occurred between 1991 and 1993, when the Parks Department shifted the bandstand, rebuilt the park house, installed new paths and redistributed recreational facilities. Additional work took place in 1996-97 when the city installed a new steel picket fence around King Manor.

The latest renovation is scheduled to be completed by the spring of 2016.

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Exhibition shares community ideas for Flushing Meadows Corona Park


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photos by William Michael Fredericks/Courtesy of the Design Trust for Public Space

The voices of the people in the communities surrounding Flushing Meadows Corona Park have been heard, and now they will be able to share their ideas through a new exhibition at the Queens Museum.

The exhibition called “You Are Here: Creating a New Approach to Civic Participation in the World’s Park” kicked off on Sunday at the museum and highlights the individuals, process and proposals developing for Flushing Meadows Corona Park.

As the first phase of the community engagement partnership between the Parks Department, Queens Museum and nonprofit Design Trust for Public Space called “The World’s Park: Reconnecting a Regional Park with Its Neighbors,” the exhibition focuses on bringing the community, which has a passion for the future of the park, together through creative processes.

“For people who don’t feel very included in city life, like our newest New Yorkers, this park can be an opportunity for integration and to feel ownership over something,” said Maria Julia Echart, community adviser for the World’s Park project. “It’s not hard to have that feeling of inclusion when the time is taken to provide a meaningful learning experience, like with this project.”

The exhibition, which will run through May 3, features community-driven ideas that aim to enhance the access and circulation around and within the park.

Community advisers, who took the time to volunteer and become advocates, worked with community leaders and residents to deal with challenges surrounding access to the park, cultural resources, and programming for various ages.

“Located within Flushing Meadows Corona Park, we are keenly aware of the powerful symbiotic relationship between the park, community and museum, and while we are proud to partner with the NYC Parks, Design Trust and community advisers to expand the discourse and to pursue community-driven ideas that will bolster the future of Flushing Meadows Corona Park, we are even more excited to see the fruits of this endeavor shared with the community at large,” said Laura Raicovich, executive director of the Queens Museum.

Design concepts on view during the almost monthlong exhibition include items such as information kiosks, art installations for park entrances, wayfinding landmarks, and sensory play areas for children for special needs.

“We’re proud to be able to help Queens residents shape the future of Flushing Meadows Corona Park,” said Susan Chin, executive director for Design Trust for Public Space. “This exhibition is only the beginning of a true collaboration between community members and the city agencies to maximize the community use of this invaluable public resource and renowned destination in NYC.”

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Is state balking at Ridgewood Reservoir wetland declaration?


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photo

The state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) appears to be moving away from possible wetland status for the Ridgewood Reservoir, according to the Community Board 5 (CB 5) Parks Committee.

For nearly five years, the board and environmentalists have pressed the DEC to declare the 55-acre site on the Brooklyn/Queens border in Glendale as a wetland. The declaration would recognize the sensitive ecology that formed in the reservoir since it was taken out of the city’s water system decades ago and grant the state authority to regulate its future use.

But CB 5 recently learned that DEC officials weren’t so sure that much of the Ridgewood Reservoir meets the criteria for wetland status.

According to Steve Fiedler, CB 5 Parks Committee chair, the DEC indicated that Basin 3, the westernmost and largest of the three reservoir chambers, did not meet the minimum qualifications for a wetland. In past years, the city planned to clear this basin and transform it into athletic fields and other active park space, but those plans were scrapped due to community opposition and financial constraints.

Basin 2, the center chamber which includes a large natural lake, did not meet acreage requirements under DEC wetland criteria, but Fielder said the agency would likely declare it a wetland due to “extraordinary community concern.”

Fielder added that DEC officials indicated they did not evaluate Basin 1, the smallest and easternmost chamber, because inspectors were unable to enter due to heavy vegetation along the basin walls.

The committee co-chair charged in a phone interview that the DEC failed to properly evaluate the reservoir as a wetland, echoing sentiments in a resolution Board 5 adopted at its April 8 meeting in Middle Village.

“They did no plant evaluation, they did no soil evaluation and they did no testing,” Fiedler said. “They just went in and looked around and found it very dry after a rainstorm. They also went in during the winter when [they] shouldn’t be looking for wetland environments.”

In a letter to DEC Commissioner Joseph Martens, CB 5 District Manager Gary Giordano wrote that a preliminary assessment prepared by Round Mountain LLC for the city Parks Department “identifies an important wetland in the south end of the west basin.” Giordano noted that such characteristics were confirmed in a site visit by Round Mountain officials last May.

“It is very important that NYS DEC engage in an in-depth study of plant life at the Ridgewood Reservoir, and that in-depth soil samples be taken, and not limited to the dry season,” Giordano wrote to Martens. “If it is not feasible for NYS DEC to conduct the necessary plant life studies required for wetland determination in the spring and summer, DEC should be able to rely on expert studies that have been performed during the past 15 years related to the Ridgewood Reservoir.”

The DEC did not immediately return a request for comment.

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Sunnyside playground unveils renovations, months ahead of schedule


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Angy Altamirano

Children and families in Sunnyside will now have a new place to enjoy the warm weather.

Local elected officials, community leaders and Parks Department representatives joined families on Tuesday morning to unveil the newly-renovated Lance Corporal Thomas P. Noonan Playground located at the intersection of 43rd Street and Greenpoint Avenue.

The $2 million makeover, which was funded by Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, was completed two months ahead of schedule and features new accessible play equipment, more swings, a play area for children from 2 to 5 years old and another for children 5 to 12 years old, and a new rainbow spray shower.

“The improvements to Noonan Playground are a perfect example of our community coming together and developing a project that all residents can enjoy,” Van Bramer said. “Between new plantings, additional play equipment, a new and improved Rainbow sprinkler as well as a one-of-a-kind historic memorial for our local veterans, we have solidified Noonan Playground as one of the borough’s top destinations to spend an afternoon with the family.”

Photo courtesy of Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer's office

Photo courtesy of Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer’s office

The renovations also include additional planted areas created within the playground, along Greenpoint Avenue and 43rd Street, improvements in site drainage and lighting, and new bike racks, benches, paving and fencing. The main entrance to the playground was also reconstructed.

“Just in time for spring, kids of all abilities will be able to enjoy this new play space with more swings, a separate area for toddlers, and new spray showers,” said Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver. “When the sun comes out in Sunnyside, this is sure to be a popular destination.”

Along with redesigning and expanding the playground, a monument was built to commemorate Sunnyside Vietnam veteran Lance Corporal Thomas P. Noonan.

A plaque was also installed honoring local veterans from the neighborhood, such as Donald C. Breuer, who was killed in action in 1972 at 26 years old during the Vietnam War. Breuer’s name is also included on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C.

“I am thrilled that Sunnysiders will get to enjoy the new and improved Thomas P. Noonan playground ahead of schedule, and just in time for spring,” said state Senator Michael Gianaris. “This park is not only a monument to veterans and a Sunnyside hero, but also an escape from city life that provides local children with the open space they desperately need.”

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Parents call for permanent annex at Corona’s P.S. 143 to alleviate overcrowding


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photos by Angy Altamirano

Parents at one Corona school are saying enough is enough and are calling on officials to give their children more room to succeed.

Over a hundred parents and children gathered on Tuesday morning with state Senator Jose Peralta outside of P.S. 143, The Louis Armstrong Elementary School, located at 34-74 113th St., to propose the building of a permanent addition to the school to help alleviate the chronic overcrowding.

According to Peralta, the Corona elementary school was originally built to accommodate 900 students, yet currently there are about 1,800 students enrolled at the site. This causes some children to have lunch at 9:50 a.m. and a large number of students have to take their classes outside of the school’s building.

The new annex would replace a mini building and six temporary classroom units, also known as trailers, which are found on the side of the school’s original building. Some students have also been moved to an annex located at 98th Street and 38th Avenue. 

“We need to have real classrooms for our children. A trailer is no place for a kid to be learning and that’s something that we’ve been saying time and time again to the administration,” Peralta said. “No kid should have to learn in a trailer. Forget about the state-of-the-art classrooms, state-of-the-art technology, we just want every student to sit and get an education in a real classroom.

Peralta first proposed the idea of the annex to the Department of Education two years ago, and was told that the agency agreed with the need for a solution to alleviate the overcrowding at P.S. 143. However issues arose because the property where the building would go is owned by the Parks Department. 

Yet the senator said that the building of a new annex would not affect the recreational areas because it would only take up the space already being used by the mini building and trailers. 

“Enough of the talk – we need the walk, we need actions. It is time to act now,” Peralta said. “This is the 21st century. We need to treat our kids like we are in the 21st century,”

Parents said they are concerned because their young children, mostly first-graders, have to go from one location to another during bad weather conditions and are also learning in classrooms with over 30 students. 

The parents added that they call on representatives of the Department of Education, Parks Department and School Construction Authority to believe that it was their children being made to learn in these conditions. 

“We are fighting and no one listens to us and we are tired of this situation,” said Juana de los Santos, who has two children attending P.S. 143. “I believe our children deserve a good education because they are the future of this country. We want an answer and soon, we don’t want them to tell us ‘Here, in five years it will happen.’ We are tired and our children are suffering.”

According to DOE spokesman Jason Fink, the agency is “working with the Parks Department to explore ways to add capacity at this school.”

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Parks Department announces start of Evergreen Park project in Glendale


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

File photo

Work began this week on the long-awaited reconstruction of Glendale‘s Evergreen Park, the Parks Department announced.

The first phase of renovations to the 1.1-acre green space on 60th Place between 75th and St. Felix avenues includes removing “underused” bocce and shuffleboard courts in order to reconstruct an expanded playground that will feature, among other amenities, new spray showers.

“We expect construction to take about a year to complete, and look forward to reopening this playground next spring,” a Parks Department spokesperson said. “This work has been funded with $1 million from [City Councilwoman Elizabeth] Crowley.”

Crowley, Queens Borough President Melinda Katz and Mayor Bill de Blasio also allocated $2.4 million for the second phase of Evergreen Park’s reconstruction, which will include a new asphalt playing area. According to the Parks Department spokesperson, the agency will seek “design consultant services for this project shortly.”

Plans to reconstruct Evergreen Park date back to September 2012, when Parks Department representatives outlined plans at a Community Board 5 Parks Services Committee meeting. Other components of the reconstruction’s first phase include the installation of new plantings and “World’s Fair-style” benches, new fencing, updated water fountains and a remodeled swing area.

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More tree removal in Howard Beach


| slicata@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Salvatore Licata

“X” marks the spot to chop.

The Parks Department has come into Howard Beach for a second round of tree removal.

This is a continuation of the previous tree removal process that took place in September. All Sandy-stricken trees that the Parks Department feels are too far gone and not likely to survive will be cut down and replaced, according to the agency. There is still not an exact number for how many trees will be cut as the agency is still surveying the area.

“The trees marked with an ‘X’ are indeed part of the Sandy removal and replacement efforts, and are scheduled to be removed and replaced over the next year,” a Parks spokeswomen said. “The total number of trees is still evolving and continues to do so as we mark additional trees.”

The Parks Department is still in the process of replanting the ones they took down in September.

At the time, the Parks Department cut down nearly 500 trees in the confines of Community Board 10. These were part of the 48,000 trees citywide they looked at to see if they should be removed.

DSC_0791

To coincide with the project, there is a citywide initiative to plant one million trees throughout the five boroughs. At this point, the city has planted over 938,000 trees since 2007, when the program started. They plan to have the full million planted by 2017.

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Forest Park sinkhole all patched up


| slicata@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Salvatore Licata

The sinkhole that has blocked the entrance path to Forest Park for years is finally fixed, according to the city Parks Department.

The contractor has finished the work to fix the hole, including clearing and upgrading existing drainage systems, reconstructing the sidewalk and stabilizing the adjacent slope.

The final portion of the project is to repave the strip with new asphalt, which will be completed once the weather permits, according to a Parks Department spokesperson.

The hole is located on the entrance path to the park from Woodhaven Boulevard. According to locals, the sinkhole started about two years ago and has been getting worse ever since it first appeared. It was most likely caused by runoff that deteriorated the catch basin beneath the roadway, the department spokesperson said.

Repair crews began work to fix the problems that caused the sinkhole last September after The Queens Courier first reported the gaping hole. The sidewalk has been closed off since but will reopen once the paving is completed. The schedule for the paving work depends on the weather.

sinkole_before

The hole before it was fixed.

When The Courier first reported on the situation in early September, the hole was covered by steel barricades, leaving a small path for people to still use the sidewalk. This worried locals said they believed one false step could possibly launch a pedestrian right into the hole causing major injuries.

But parkgoers will no longer have to worry as the hole is completely patched.

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$1.2M to reconstruct park in Jamaica


| slicata@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Salvatore Licata

Captain Tilly Park will be getting a face-lift thanks to new funding proposed by the City Council.

The Parks Department broke ground this week to help clean up the park. Under the $1.2 million project, crews will remove invasive plants in the northern half of the park and replant with native ones that will help to combat the erosion of the area. Along with the plantings, pathways will be repaved and their drainage system will be improved.

“The first phase of renovation will increase the biodiversity and ecological richness of Captain Tilly Playground, while also addressing the park’s drainage and erosion issues,” said Queens Parks Commissioner Dorothy Lewandowski. “We are thankful for the City Council’s support of this important work and look forward to opening a greener and greater park.”

The first round of renovations, which include the projects above, is expected to take about a year to complete.

The second round of renovations will address the plaza area and surrounding landscape near the Tilly memorial. The Parks Department said they will add new asphalt pathways, fencing, granite pavement, benches, drainage, lighting and landscaping.

This portion of the project is expected to start in the fall of 2015 and take about a year to complete.

“I’m pleased to see the beginning of these renovations to Captain Tilly Park,” Councilman Rory I. Lancman said. “Properly removing and replacing the invasive plant species and preventing erosion into Goose Pond is the foundation for a lively, healthy park.”

Army Capt. George Tilly, the son of a prominent Jamaica family, died in the Philippines in 1899 when U.S. forces were fighting Filipino rebels for control of the colony, which was among the territories Spain ceded to the U.S. after the Spanish-American War. A monument to the heroes of the Spanish-American War was erected in the park in 1941.

The park, once used to raise ducks and geese, is located between Gothic Drive and Highland Avenue, west of 164th Street.

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