Tag Archives: Parks Department

Festival celebrating birds of prey flies into Flushing Meadows


| amatua@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of the Parks Department

Flushing Meadows Corona Park will be the host of the 18th annual Raptor Fest, a festival that allows people to get up close and personal with New York City’s birds of prey.

The festival will be held on Oct. 3 and will introduce Queens residents to the birds native to the city including red-tailed hawks, peregrine falcons, kestrels and bald eagles, according to Richard Simon, deputy director of the Urban Park Rangers.

Previously held in Central Park and Prospect Park, Simon said Flushing Meadows Corona Park administrators reached out to the Parks Department to request the move to Queens. The festival is named raptor for the word meaning birds of prey, or birds that hunt and feed on other animals.

Children and adults can expect to see three flight demonstrations by a professional falconer and educational tables that will teach visitors about the birds around them.

Raptor Fest will take place from noon to 3 p.m. on Oct. 3 near the Unisphere, where resident red-tailed hawks have made a home for themselves.

Simon said the goal of the festival is to raise awareness about the importance of birds of prey in New York City. He is also encouraging visitors to bring their cameras for the photo opportunities the festival will allow.

“They really are apex predators. They eat a lot of rodents and squirrels and some of them even eat large insects so they help control some of the pests that are in the city,” Simon said. “They’re really a great big bird so kids will have an easy time recognizing them and all of a sudden noticing that there’s a difference between pigeons and starlings and there are other birds we have in New York City.”


RECOMMENDED STORIES

Councilwoman meets parents over Ridgewood playground problems


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

RIDGEWOOD TIMES/Photo by Anthony Giudice

After parkgoers raised issues with the conditions at Rosemary’s Playground in Ridgewood, Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley met with concerned parents at the playground Friday to hear their plea and see what improvements could be made.

Stephanie Sauer and Caroline Stark formed the group Let’s Fix Rosemary’s Playground to address the community’s issues with the park. Since its inception, the group has gained over 150 likes on its Facebook page, proving that this issue is a major concern residents who frequent the park.

Approximately 20 parents and residents came out to the park to support the cause and voice their concerns to Crowley. Users of the playground brought up issues concerning the elevated flower beds, the deteriorating playground equipment and what could be done with the open space area of the park that currently has no use.

“The elevated flower beds are our number one issue with the playground,” Sauer said. “Kids climb into the elevated flower bed and we are nervous of the pesticides used in them. Our kids also climb up there and run around. They could fall and hurt themselves.”

Some parents suggested planting shrubs up to the edge of the flower beds so children would not be able to access them, or removing them completely.

“What is the benefit of having these plants?” asked Ben Brown, a resident of the area that uses the playground. “You could use the space better. It’s just wasted space at this point. It’s not providing shade or anything.”

After presenting their concerns, the parents asked Crowley where funding for the proposed changes could be found.

“Things don’t happen overnight in the city,” Crowley told the parents. “Let’s look for funding. Looking for funding is the first step. Then we can start looking at a long-term plan.”

The members of Let’s Fix Rosemary’s Playground understand that this process will take time and results are not going to be seen immediately.

“We don’t think that things will change tomorrow,” Stark said. “We just want to set a plan in action.”

“We have realistic expectations,” Sauer added. “We don’t expect things to get done tomorrow, or cheaply.”

Now that the issues have been raised, Crowley noted, an expert from the Parks Department needs to inspect the park and determine which changes could be made and how much the changes would cost.

“The next step, before I can move any further is to have professionals come and evaluate the park,” Crowley said. “Having the Parks Department let us know how much it would cost is a good first step.”

Crowley invited the members of Let’s Fix Rosemary’s Playground to a meeting in July at her office to continue the conversation and see what the next step in the process of getting repairs to the playground.

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Tree attacking Astoria woman’s house


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy Joanne D’Errico

Now that’s a tree-hugger.

Longtime Astoria resident Joanne D’Errico is stumped about what to do about a clingy street tree whose branches have been barking up her home, blocking windows and pressing on the front of her house.

“It looks like it’s eating my house,” D’Errico said. “God forbid if there’s a fire, there is no way to open the windows.”

D’Errico has called 311 numerous times since last summer to complain and have the problem fixed, but city officials have not remedied the situation.

D’Errico has lived in the home near the middle of Crescent Street between 24th Avenue and Hoyt Avenue North for 50 years.

She isn’t completely certain but said roughly 20 years ago the city planted the tree in front of her home. The branches block all windows on the second floor, preventing her from opening them. She fears if the branches grow any longer they could actually damage the windows during strong winds.


The branches have actually pressed in a window before and she had to fix it, D’Errico said.

Because money doesn’t grow on trees, D’Errico is not planning to cut the tree herself because she is afraid of being fined for tampering with Parks Department property.

She is still hoping to leave the issue to the city agency, and actually likes having the tree in front her home.

“I love trees,” D’Errico said. “I just want it off my windows.”

Representatives from the Parks Department have not yet responded to The Courier’s request for comment on the handling of this situation.

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Cool off for free at these Queens outdoor pools


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of .nycgovparks.org

You don’t need a fancy club membership or the money to put in your own backyard swimming oasis to beat the heat this summer.

Starting Saturday, June 27, the Parks Department is opening its free outdoor pools around the city, including at eight locations in Queens.  All locations are open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. (with a break for cleaning between 3 and 4 p.m.). The season runs through Labor Day, Monday, Sept. 7.

Astoria Park
19th Street and 23rd Drive, Astoria
Olympic-sized pool

Fisher Pool
99th Street and 32nd Avenue, East Elmhurst
Outdoor intermediate pool, outdoor wading pool

Fort Totten
338 Story Avenue, Fort Totten Park, Bayside
Outdoor intermediate pool, outdoor wading pool, outdoor diving pool

Liberty Park Pool
173rd Street and 106th Avenue, Jamaica
Outdoor intermediate pool, outdoor wading pool

Marie Curie Park
211th Street and 46th Avenue, Bayside
Outdoor mini pool

P.S. 10
45th Street and 30th Road, Astoria
Outdoor mini pool

P.S. 186 Playground
Little Neck Parkway and 72nd Avenue, Glen Oaks
Outdoor mini pool

Windmuller Park
54th Street and 39th Road, Woodside
Outdoor mini pool

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Elmhurst plants a tree to honor late Parks Department employee


| editorial@ridgewoodtimes.com

RIDGEWOOD TIMES/Photo by Kelly Marie Mancuso

BY KELLY MARIE MANCUSO

The Parks Department and members of the Communities of Maspeth and Elmhurst Together (COMET) teamed up on June 11 for a special Elmhurst Park Day of Service in memory of Parks Department manager Jennifer Kao.

Kao, a senior project manager with the Parks Department’s Planning and Parklands division, worked with the community to help create the park on the site of the former Elmhurst gas tanks. Tragically, Kao died earlier this year.

The Elmhurst Park Day of Service began with a special tree planting ceremony in Kao’s honor led by Dorothy Lewandowski, the Parks Department’s Queens commissioner.

“I had an opportunity to work with Jennifer when I came here about 10 or 11 years ago,” Lewandowski recalled. “She was an important part of the Parks Department. Her character and dedication went above the task. I greatly miss her.”

Kao was also fondly remembered by her fellow Parks Department colleagues, as well as community members.

“I think it’s a real testament to Jennifer Kao’s reach across the agency in working with various members to get projects done,” explained Parks Department Assistant Commissioner for Planning Alyssa Konon.

“For all of us who knew her, she was a very dedicated person who was very thorough and followed through on numerous tasks,” Konon said. “I’m sure it would please her to know that we’re all here today on something that she started. Here we are following through on something that she helped to make happen.”

COMET representative Richie Polgar also expressed gratitude for Kao’s work in creating Elmhurst Park.

“This park is one of the greatest things that have happened to this area,” Polgar said. “It’s so great to see this many people enjoying the park as it was intended to be. I’m so glad we have it.”

According to Lewandowski, COMET member Christina Wilkinson reached out to her shortly after Kao’s passing requesting that the community plant a special tree in Kao’s memory.

The tree planted in Kao’s honor is an Eastern Red Bud. “It gets beautiful, heart-shaped leaves and little pink flowers in the early spring that bloom against the wood, so it looks like the stems are lit up with pink,” said Queens Director of Horticulture Adriana Jaceykewycz.

Community volunteers and Parks Department employees continued to work on cleaning the park and planting new flowers and shrubbery well into the afternoon.

“This is a good spot to come back and contemplate about not only our own lives, but Jennifer’s, too,” Lewandowski said.

RECOMMENDED STORIES

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.

RECOMMENDED STORIES

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.

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Watch free movies at Queens parks


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

File photo

Updated Monday, June 1, 9:55 p.m.

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

Through September, Queens residents can watch a variety of family-friendly flicks, including “The Lego Movie,” and “Frozen,” ’80s classics, such as “Ghostbusters” and “The Karate Kid,” and  international cinema at Socrates Sculpture Park. Some showings will even offer popcorn, ices or refreshments.

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.

Saturday, June 27

Annie” (PG)
Lawn Area, Springfield Park, Springfield Gardens,
Recreational activities begin at 7:00 pm. Movie begins at dusk.

Tuesday, June 30

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

Wednesday, July 1

Dont Look Back” (U.S.A)
Socrates Sculpture Park, 32-01 Vernon Blvd., Long Island City
Pre-screening performances at 7 p.m., film begins at sundown.
Film Forum and Socrates Sculpture Park in collaboration with Rooftop Films presents the 17th Outdoor Cinema film festival, eight weeks of international movies shown Wednesday evenings from July 1 to Aug. 19. The festival features open-air cinema, music, dance and food at the 5-acre waterfront park.

Tuesday, July 7

The Iron Giant” (PG)
Beach 17th Street and Boardwalk, Rockaway Beach and Boardwalk
(At the performance stage in O’Donohue Park)
8:30 to 11 p.m.
Complimentary popcorn will be provided. Movie begins between 8:30 and 9 p.m. at sunset.

Wednesday, July 8

Live-In Maid” (Argentina)
Socrates Sculpture Park, 32-01 Vernon Blvd., Long Island City
Pre-screening performances at 7 p.m., film begins at sundown.
Film Forum and Socrates Sculpture Park in collaboration with Rooftop Films presents the 17th Outdoor Cinema film festival, eight weeks of international movies shown Wednesday evenings from July 1 to Aug. 19. The festival features open-air cinema, music, dance and food at the 5-acre waterfront park.

Wednesday, July 15

Gainsbourg: A Heroic Life” (France)
Socrates Sculpture Park, 32-01 Vernon Blvd., Long Island City
Pre-screening performances at 7 p.m., film begins at sundown.
(Note: Due to some nudity, this film is not recommended for children.)
Film Forum and Socrates Sculpture Park in collaboration with Rooftop Films presents the 17th Outdoor Cinema film festival, eight weeks of international movies shown Wednesday evenings from July 1 to Aug. 19. The festival features open-air cinema, music, dance and food at the 5-acre waterfront park.

Friday, July 17

Ghostbusters” (PG)
Lost Battalion Hall Recreation Center, 93-29 Queens Blvd., Rego Park
Recreational activities begin at 7:30 p.m. The movie will be shown at dusk.

Wednesday, July 22

Iron Crows” (Bangladesh)
Socrates Sculpture Park, 32-01 Vernon Blvd., Long Island City
Pre-screening performances at 7 p.m., film begins at sundown.
Film Forum and Socrates Sculpture Park in collaboration with Rooftop Films presents the 17th Outdoor Cinema film festival, eight weeks of international movies shown Wednesday evenings from July 1 to Aug. 19. The festival features open-air cinema, music, dance and food at the 5-acre waterfront park.

Friday, July 24

Back to the Future” (PG)
Lost Battalion Hall Recreation Center, 93-29 Queens Blvd., Rego Park
Recreational activities begin at 7:30 p.m. The movie will be shown at dusk.

Monday, July 27

“The Princess Bride” (PG)
Central Astoria Movies on the Waterfront: Astoria Park Lawn in Astoria Park, Shore Boulevard between Hell Gate Bridge and the pool
8:30 p.m.

Wednesday, July 29

Kings of The Wind & Electric Queens” (India)
Socrates Sculpture Park, 32-01 Vernon Blvd., Long Island City
Pre-screening performances at 7 p.m., film begins at sundown.
Film Forum and Socrates Sculpture Park in collaboration with Rooftop Films presents the 17th Outdoor Cinema film festival, eight weeks of international movies shown Wednesday evenings from July 1 to Aug. 19. The festival features open-air cinema, music, dance and food at the 5-acre waterfront park.

Friday, July 31

The Karate Kid” (PG)
Lost Battalion Hall Recreation Center, 93-29 Queens Blvd., Rego Park
Recreational activities begin at 7:30 p.m. The movie will be shown at dusk.

Monday, Aug. 3

Dead Poets Society” (PG)
Main Park House in Cunningham Park, 196th Street and Union Turnpike, Fresh Meadows
8 p.m.
Rain date is Tuesday evening

“Frozen” (PG)
Central Astoria Movies on the Waterfront: Astoria Park Lawn in Astoria Park, Shore Boulevard between Hell Gate Bridge and the pool
8:30 p.m.

Tuesday, Aug. 4

Back to the Future Part II” (PG)
Beach 17th Street and Boardwalk (in Rockaway Beach and Boardwalk
(At the performance stage in O’Donohue Park)
Complimentary popcorn will be provided. Movie begins between 8 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.

Cold Conflicts: Swedish short films
Socrates Sculpture Park, 32-01 Vernon Blvd., Long Island City
Pre-screening performances at 7 p.m., films begins at sundown.
(Note: Due to graphic language, this evening is not recommended for children.)
Film Forum and Socrates Sculpture Park in collaboration with Rooftop Films presents the 17th Outdoor Cinema film festival, eight weeks of international movies shown Wednesday evenings from July 1 to Aug. 19. The festival features open-air cinema, music, dance and food at the 5-acre waterfront park.

Monday, Aug. 10

Raiders of the Lost Ark” (PG)
Main Park House in Cunningham Park, 196th Street and Union Turnpike, Fresh Meadows
8 p.m.
Rain date is Tuesday evening

“How to Train Your Dragon” (PG)
Central Astoria Movies on the Waterfront: Astoria Park Lawn in Astoria Park, Shore Boulevard between Hell Gate Bridge and the pool
8:30 p.m.

Wednesday, Aug. 12

Wadjda” (Saudi Arabia)
Socrates Sculpture Park, 32-01 Vernon Blvd., Long Island City
Pre-screening performances at 7 p.m., films begins at sundown.
Film Forum and Socrates Sculpture Park in collaboration with Rooftop Films presents the 17th Outdoor Cinema film festival, eight weeks of international movies shown Wednesday evenings from July 1 to Aug. 19. The festival features open-air cinema, music, dance and food at the 5-acre waterfront park.

Monday, Aug. 17

“Mr. Holland’s Opus” (PG)
Main Park House in Cunningham Park, 196th Street and Union Turnpike, Fresh Meadows
8 p.m.
Rain date is Tuesday evening

“Ghostbusters” (PG)
Central Astoria Movies on the Waterfront: Astoria Park Lawn in Astoria Park, Shore Boulevard between Hell Gate Bridge and the pool
8:30 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.

Alice” (Czech Republic)
Socrates Sculpture Park, 32-01 Vernon Blvd., Long Island City
Pre-screening performances at 7 p.m., films begins at sundown.
(Note: This film is not recommended for young children.)
Film Forum and Socrates Sculpture Park in collaboration with Rooftop Films presents the 17th Outdoor Cinema film festival, eight weeks of international movies shown Wednesday evenings from July 1 to Aug. 19. The festival features open-air cinema, music, dance and food at the 5-acre waterfront park.

Monday, Aug. 24

Big Hero 6” (PG)
Main Park House in Cunningham Park, 196th Street and Union Turnpike, Fresh Meadows
8 p.m.
Rain date is Tuesday evening

“The Incredibles” (PG)
Central Astoria Movies on the Waterfront: Astoria Park Lawn in Astoria Park, Shore Boulevard between Hell Gate Bridge and the pool
8:30 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.

Monday, Aug. 31

Lagaan” (PG)
Main Park House in Cunningham Park, 196th Street and Union Turnpike, Fresh Meadows
7:30 p.m.
Rain date is Tuesday evening

Wednesday, Sept. 2

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

RECOMMENDED STORIES

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.

RECOMMENDED STORIES

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.

RECOMMENDED STORIES

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.

RECOMMENDED STORIES

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.

RECOMMENDED STORIES

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.”

RECOMMENDED STORIES

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.

RECOMMENDED STORIES

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.”

RECOMMENDED STORIES