Tag Archives: parks

Moms want upgrades for Ridgewood playground


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photos by Anthony Giudice

Updated June 17, 10:35 a.m.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Garbage has also become a problem in the playground.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Maspeth residents speak out on Frank Principe Park repairs


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Salvatore Licata

Frank Principe Park in Maspeth is one step closer to getting the much-needed renovations the community has been wanting for years.

On May 13, Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley held a visioning session at Maspeth Town Hall where members of the community, as well as community leaders, came together with the New York City Parks Department to suggest changes that they would like to see made to Principe Park.

The visioning session comes on the heels of Crowley allocating $5.7 million in city funding in the Fiscal Year 2015 budget to enhance the park and create green space the community can easily utilize.

The last major capital project for the park was done in 1996, which was a $3 million upgrade to the playground, tennis and basketball courts.

Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley during last week's visioning session for Frank Principe Park. (Photo courtesy Elizabeth Crowley's office.)

Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley during last week’s visioning session for Frank Principe Park. (Photo courtesy Elizabeth Crowley’s office.)

“This funding will give new life to a park that has desperately needed it for decades. This renovation has been a top priority of Community Board 5 and the community for the past 10 years and I am pleased to finally get this done,” Crowley said. “I’m happy to have brought the public together to hear what they truly need in their backyards for their children, for their sports teams and for themselves.”

Currently, the park’s sports fields are prone to flooding and the asphalt running track is weather-beaten and outdated. Neither of these amenities have been upgraded since the park’s installation in the late 1980s.

During the visioning session, residents requested full-size soccer fields, baseball fields, astroturf on the fields, an adequate drainage system, high fences, bleachers, water fountains, garbage cans and other improvements.

Over the next few months, NYC Parks will consider the community’s suggestions and lay out a proposal which will be heard in the fall.

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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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Evergreen Park renovations celebrated at Glendale groundbreaking


| editorial@ridgewoodtimes.com

TIMES NEWSWEEKLY/Photo by Kelly Marie Mancuso

BY KELLY MARIE MANCUSO

City officials and civic leaders celebrated the start of Evergreen Park’s reconstruction during a ceremony Friday morning at the Glendale green space.

Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley joined Queens Parks Commissioner Dorothy Lewandowski and others to ceremonially break ground on renovations to the playground on the national observance of Arbor Day.

“It’s really appropriate, because it’s Arbor Day, that we have all of this green coming into this park,” Lewandowski said.

Construction on the park began in early April and is expected to take about one year to complete. The first phase of the park’s reconstruction will include replacing the underused bocce and shuffleboard courts with a garden-inspired playground, spray showers, new shrubs and plantings.

According to Lewandowski, the new playground, themed with the title “Play in the Garden,” will feature new spray showers with “large green misting leaves and directional jets and bubblers, in a field of leaves and vines.”

“It’s going to promote innovative play for toddlers and young children,” Lewandowski said. “This will be a really creative spot where kids can play. The days of the old concrete spray shower are gone. This will be much more interactive for children.”

Crowley allocated $1 million in funding for this first phase of the park’s reconstruction. The councilwoman considers Evergreen Park a “special place” as it’s where she used to play softball while growing up.

“This project is a long time coming,” Crowley said.

Community Board 5 was well represented at the affair in the form of Chairperson Vincent Arcuri, District Manager Gary Giordano, Parks Committee Chair Steven Fiedler, Paul Kerzner and Tom Dowd. Also on hand were Mike Liendo and David Sands, the respective president and vice president of the Liberty Park Home Owners Association, and Barry Grodenchik, Queens Borough President Melinda Katz’s director of community boards.

Community members, including Sands and Liendo, first approached Crowley back in 2009, shortly after she was elected, regarding refurbishment of the park.

According to Fiedler, a design committee rejected the plan on two occasions before finally granting approval to proceed.

“I’m glad to see this move forward,” he said. “It’s a great design.”

Crowley also announced that an additional $2.4 million in funding for the second phase of improvements was secured in conjunction with Katz and the mayor’s office. These improvements may include refurbishment of the asphalt field, basketball courts and comfort stations.

“I want to make sure everybody stays engaged as we come together to plan the next phase of this project,” Crowley said.

TIMES NEWSWEEKLY/photo by Kelly Marie Mancuso

TIMES NEWSWEEKLY/Photo by Kelly Marie Mancuso

Principal Ann Marie Scalfano and first-graders from P.S. 68 also attended the groundbreaking ceremony. The children carried handmade signs and banners thanking Crowley for her funding and support of Evergreen Park.

“It’s exciting, because this $1 million allocation will go a long way in making Evergreen Park a better park for the community,” Crowley said. “The park is uniquely named ‘Evergreen’ and it’s important to keep it young and fresh for the young people of the community.”

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Former Knicks help plant new trees and shrubs at Alley Pond Park


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of NYC Parks/Daniel Avila

Their most recent campaign wasn’t too successful, but the New York Knicks scored a win for the environment this week at Alley Pond Park.

Knicks legend Walt “Clyde” Frazier and former Knick Jerome Williams joined the Parks Department, the Knicks City Dancers, students from P.S. 161 in Richmond Hill and volunteers to announce the planting of 3,500 trees and 1,050 shrubs across the 655-acre northeast Queens green space.

The planting was made possible through the Trees for Threes program launched by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), which donated one tree for every three-pointer the Knicks made during their 41 home games at Madison Square Garden this season.

At season’s end, the Knicks had accumulated more than 500 three-point buckets at MSG, and PwC decided to triple its donation to city parks.

“The Knicks and PwC understand the importance of adding trees to New York City’s ecosystem and how valuable care and stewardship are to the health of young trees on the streets and in our parks,” said Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver.

The second-largest green space in Queens, Alley Pond Park features many wetlands, tidal flats, meadows and thick forests. It also has the city’s first high ropes adventure course and is part of the Urban Park Rangers’ Alley Pond Park adventure.

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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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Historic Highland Park bridge to get makeover


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photo by Anthony Giudice

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Sledding spots you can try at Queens parks


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

File photo

Here are local parks you can visit for some fun in the snow and suggestions for sledding spots, courtesy of the city’s Parks Department. But remember to stay warm and be safe.

Be careful of slippery paths, snow-covered bodies of water and fallen branches. If you see a fallen branch, call 311.

Astoria Park, Astoria, 19th Street between Shore Boulevard off Ditmars Boulevard

Bowne Park, Flushing, small hillside on the 155th Street side of the park

Crocheron Park, Bayside, 35th Avenue opposite Golden Pond

Cunningham Park, Oakland Gardens

Forest Park, Mary Whelan Playground at 79th Street and Park Lane South

Hermon A. Macneil Park, College Point

Juniper Valley Park,  Middle Village, Juniper Boulevard North and South near the Tennis Building at 75th Street

Lower Highland Park, Jamaica Avenue and Elton Street

Kissena Park, Flushing, east side of lake: enter Metcalf and 164th Street

Have a suggestion for a great sledding location in Queens? Let us know by commenting below. 

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Underfunded parks to receive funding: de Blasio


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Eric Jankiewicz

Mayor Bill de Blasio visited a Flushing park on Tuesday to announce that the city will invest in revitalizing underfunded parks across Queens and New York City.

“It’s a place that needs a lot of support,” de Blasio said about Bowne Playground, where he made the announcement. “It’s been decades of disinvestment in our parks. There’s not much greenery here, as you can see.”

The administration identified 215 parks across the city that each received less than $250,000 in the last two decades.


According to de Blasio, this level of funding doesn’t allow the Parks Department to repair the “wear and tear” of parks such as Bowne Playground. In the first phase of the administration’s attempt to fix up these parks, they aim to invest more than $130 million to rebuild 35 small community parks.

While this initiative will be focusing on 35 parks, including Queens’ Bowne Playground, Astoria Heights PlaygroundCorona Mac ParkGrassmere Playground, Rockaway Community Park /Conch Playground and Van Alst Playground, the administration wants to eventually treat all of the 215 parks that are underfunded to some green. Queens alone has more than 50 parks that are underfunded.

IMG_3975

Bowne Playground will be one of the parks to receive funding for expanded recreational programming and increased maintenance. De Blasio also expressed a desire to have less concrete and more trees and grass.

“This park is an example of why we’re doing this,” de Blasio said, citing the neighborhood’s high population and few public spaces.

“Parks are so many things to us,” he said. “It’s truly a necessity in urban environments.”

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Quiz asks: What NYC park are you?


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

File Photo

With hundreds of parks in New York City, it is hard to find the right one to call your own.

The city’s Department of Parks & Recreation just put up a quick quiz on its website to match individuals with a local green space based on likes such as favorite food, book and vacation spot. 

Will you be Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, Astoria Park, Juniper Valley Park or another Queens greenery?

To find out, take the quiz here.

 

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Timers will save thousands of gallons of water at city parks


| brennison@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/photo by Billy Rennison

On most cool, rainy days throughout the summer, city sprinklers run continuously, pouring thousands of gallons of water — and money — down the drain.

But a joint project between the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the Department of Parks and Recreation is looking to put an end to this water waste through timed spray showers at city parks.

Timers installed on spray showers at two Queens playgrounds, Glendale and Maple, will save more than 5,000 gallons of water a day at each. An activation button was placed next to the showers at the parks, providing two minutes of water. If kids are still playing when the water stops, someone just needs to press the button again to continue the water.

“We’re working together to make a cleaner and greener and healthier city that also happens to save money,” said Adrian Benepe, Parks Department commissioner. “As a world community we have to be much more responsible about managing our water resources.”

The new initiative — part of the Water for the Future program — was announced at Glendale Playground on Thursday, August 9. The DEP’s program aims to reduce the city’s water consumption by five percent.

Before the timer was installed, showers ran nonstop, using about 7,000 gallons of water per day. The DEP expects the new plan will save about 80 percent (5,600 gallons) of the wasted water each day. Over the next year, 23 more will be installed, and by 2017 more than 400 will be in place in the five boroughs — saving 1.5 million gallons of water daily.

“NYC water is one of the city’s most precious resources, and it’s important that we conserve it wherever we can while also enhancing opportunities for New Yorkers to enjoy water outdoors,” said Carter Strickland, commissioner of the DEP.

Shifa Lalani, 9, of Middle Village, one of the dozens of kids from the Lost Battalion Hall enjoying the spray showers at Glendale Park, agreed conserving water was vital.

“People need water to drink and to survive,” she said.

 

QueensWay, three-mile park planned


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

File photo

Along an abandoned stretch of railway in Forest Hills, Travis Terry envisioned a park. His dream – open space, a bike trail, paths for pedestrians, trees and grass – is now in the early stages of coming true.

Friends of the QueensWay, a group begun by Terry that advocates for the construction of a park over three miles of deserted train tracks, has partnered with the New York State Trust for Public Land. The groups have entered the preliminary phase of planning a new park.

“I took [the New York State Trust for Public Land] on a tour and showed them all the possibility here,” said Terry. “I think they saw the tremendous opportunity.”

Terry assisted in the creation of Manhattan’s High Line Park, a similar project also built on top of vacant railway. He alleges the QueensWay initiative is something locals have had interest in for some time.

Marc Matsil, New York State Director for the Trust for Public Land, believes the greenway has the potential to connect neighborhoods, running from Rego Park to Ozone Park. He speculates the greenspace will provide a cultural outlet for the already diverse area, and there are plans to establish food carts from local vendors.

Community Board 9 chair Andrea Crawford supports the project, claiming many residents are favorable towards the idea as well.

“There have been a lot of positive responses,” said Crawford. “It’s hard for anyone to say they don’t want more greenspace.”

The Trust for Public Land will conduct a feasibility study on the space in 2012, examining the park’s potential costs, structural issues and security requirements. According to Crawford, no public funds will go towards conducting the research.

“Once we have answers to all these studies, I think those who are skeptical will be on board,” said Crawford.

Crawford called the current state of the projected park’s location “a nuisance” and “dangerous,” claiming the site is littered with old mattresses and empty beer bottles.

“[The park] will help the city be more ‘green’.  It has the potential to be a world class park,” said Crawford.

Matsil claims The Trust for Public Land and Friends of the QueensWay are looking to gain involvement from area residents when designing the park, hoping community input creates a space that celebrates Queens culture.