Tag Archives: parks

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 greenspace.

The planting was made possible through the Trees for Threes program launched by Price Waterhouse Coopers (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 greenspace 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.

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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.