Tag Archives: PlaNYC

Ridgewood Reservoir reopens after renovations


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Liam La Guerre

The Ridgewood Reservoir has been resurrected.

A crowd of politicians, civic leaders and members of the community oversaw the reservoir’s grand opening on Tuesday, which heralded the completion of phase one of the site’s revitalization plan.

The nearly $7 million renovation included construction of new fencing, lighting, repaving of pathways and the addition of a handicap-accessible ramp.

“This is a historic spot for Queens and more importantly the Ridgewood community,” said Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley. “It’s a natural resource that many didn’t know about because it wasn’t accessible. Now it’s more accessible.”

The reservoir, situated near the Brooklyn-Queens border in Highland Park, was used to supply water to Brooklyn starting in the 1850s. Three basins make up the more than 50-acre space, which was officially decommissioned in 1990, according to the Parks Department.

The plan to revitalize the reservoir started in a few years ago as a part of Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s PlaNYC initiative.

Representatives from the Department of Parks and Recreation presented three concepts of a master plan for the reservoir at a public meeting hosted by the Park Services Committee of Community Board (CB) 5 on June 27.

The presentation showed dramatic changes to the reservoir to allow more people to enjoy the green space.

In the first concept plan presented, the public will only have access to the third basin, while the other basins will be locked and opened only for maintenance. There will be stone paths weaved through basin three and the gatehouse between basins one and two will be restored and turned into a ranger station. There will also be viewing platforms around basin two, where a large pool of water currently sits.

The second plan includes all modifications from the first, but adds access to the first basin. A rock climbing wall and a meadow area will be placed in basin three, a boardwalk in basin one and a boat dock in the second basin.

The final concept features the most access. This plan will contain all the mark-ups of the first two plans, plus baseball fields, a comfort station and a waterworks-themed adventure playground in the third basin.

Despite the ideas to renovate the reservoir, many people in community are opposed to a complete transformation of the site.

“What we see as wetland portions, we’d like them to be preserved that way,” said Vincent Arcuri Jr., chair of Community Board 5.

There is no money allocated to the master plan as yet and current ideas have to be reviewed and presented to the community board again.

 

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Jackson Heights to get new park space


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Angy Altamirano

Just in time for spring, Jackson Heights residents have been given new park space to enjoy.

Last March, the city announced its purchase of the athletic field at the Garden School, a private learning facility, which, combined with Travers Park, located across the street from the school, will offer the community a larger recreational space.

“Jackson Heights is one of the most densely-populated and diverse neighborhoods in New York City, and one most in need of parkland for its community,” said NYC Parks Commissioner Veronica M. White.

As of last week, NYC Parks and the NYC Department of Citywide Administrative Service had completed the $6 million acquisition of the 24,600-square-foot asphalt play yard owned by the school.

The settlement with the Garden School comes as the city follows its goal of developing original methods to increase residents’ access to neighborhood open spaces. As of 2007, 229 “Schoolyards to Playgrounds” sites have been opened to the public as part of the Bloomberg administration’s PlaNYC initiative. Yet, this is the first time the city has created an agreement with a private school.

“Working with the city was terrific,” said Arthur Gruen, president of the Board of Trustees, and Richard Marotta, headmaster of the Garden School. “We are very pleased to join with our community in establishing this permanent open space for our Garden School family and for all of our neighbors.”

The new parkland will be available for public use outside school hours, including weekend and summer months, with the ball field open for baseball and softball leagues during these times.

“Every New Yorker should have access to adequate parks and recreational opportunities,” said Councilmember Daniel Dromm. “The residents of Jackson Heights deserve this.”

As part of the agreement, the Garden School is receiving a five-year lease agreement for the exclusive use of the property during the school year between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. At all other times, NYC Parks will manage the site as a public park.

NYC Parks plans to install a property line fence separating the site being acquired from the remaining Garden School property. A final design for the property will be developed and once completed, will be accessible to the public from 78th to 79th Streets.

 

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Restorations means Rockaway’s rocking


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

Rockaway is rocking its way to a promising destination for beachgoers.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe ceremoniously cut the ribbon on Monday, August 6, at the completed $30 million restoration of areas of eastern Rockaway beach.

The restoration included a 15,700-square-foot skateboard park, handball and basketball courts, playgrounds, climbing wall, performance space, water play area, synthetic turf field and accessible comfort station, according to the mayor’s office.

“Rockaway Beach has been an iconic recreational destination for more than a century,” Benepe said. “Now, thanks to Mayor Bloomberg and PlaNYC, the Far Rockaway neighborhood has new parks, playgrounds and athletic facilities that make it like a mini Jones Beach for the 21st century.”

This is one of eight projects under PlaNYC, which works on making the city greener.

The mile-long span of beach was designed to accommodate the growing residential boom in the Rockaways, according to the mayor’s office. The renovations were also designed to withstand the effects of storms and waves.

Assemblymember Philip Goldfeder, who was present at the ribbon cutting, has also secured $8 million from the city to restore the bulkhead at Beach 108th Street in Far Rockaway.

“I thank Mayor Bloomberg for allocating the necessary funding to fix the bay wall,” Goldfeder said. “We cannot take chances on the safety and protection of Rockaway families, and I am glad the mayor heard our concerns.”

Goldfeder also noted that the same area had been restored five years ago, but was now eroding for undetermined reasons.

By restoring the wall, he said, it will help prevent flooding and bring more people and economic activity to the area.

“By revitalizing this site and repairing the deteriorated bulkhead, we can create a new economic engine to help put southern Queens and the Rockaways on track toward success,” Goldfeder said. “At the same time, through repairing part of the waterfront, we can shield the bay from contaminants and better protect the community from future flooding.”

A flourishing future for Queens parks


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Lewandowski(cropped)w

BY DOROTHY LEWANDOWSKI

Under Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Borough President Helen Marshall and all of our Queens elected officials, we are continuing to benefit from the largest period of park renovation and expansion since the 1930s. Over the past decade, almost half a billion dollars has been allocated for more than 600 upcoming and completed projects in Queens parks.

We work hard to listen to and include all the communities of Queens in what we do at NYC Parks, and we’d like to share with you a look back and a look ahead as the new year begins.

This past summer’s opening of Rockaway Beach brought sand, surf, and sun, but also tacos, spring rolls, smoothies, arepas and more, thanks to an international menu from a slate of new vendors.

Those looking for something a little more active than a day at the beach were able to play cricket on the new grass cricket fields at Jamaica’s Baisley Pond Park, practice their backhand at the restored Forest Park and Astoria Park tennis courts or row around Meadow Lake, thanks to the new boat launch and restored boathouse at Flushing Meadows-Corona Park.

And Queens kids were able to climb, run and slide into new playgrounds at Middle Village’s Juniper Valley Park and Springfield Garden’s Montbellier Park. These 21st-century playgrounds feature challenging equipment and themed designs guaranteed to entertain even the most seasoned playground-goer.

As part of the mayor’s PlaNYC program, we’re making New York a more sustainable and livable city. One of PlaNYC’s goals has been to take advantage of existing, underutilized space and improve it for additional use. Last June, we took a space that was once blighted by giant, unused gas tanks, visible from the highway, and opened Elmhurst Park – six acres of rolling hills, expansive lawns and innovative playground equipment.

Another of the initiatives under the PlaNYC program has been to improve schoolyards and open them after school hours and on weekends for public use. Last year, we opened the city’s 200th such site when we cut the ribbon on Jackson Heights’ P.S. 69. In total, 52 Queens schoolyards have already been opened, and an additional eight are currently being improved.

Queens was particularly hard hit by the 2010 tornado and last year’s many storms, so recent Queens plantings targeted Forest Hills, Rego Park, and other communities that lost trees during these storms. As you may know, the goal of MillionTreesNYC is to plant one million trees on NYC’s streets and in our parks by 2017. Last year we reached the halfway mark, planting our 500,000th tree, including more than 120,000 new trees in Queens.

I would like to thank all of our Queens partners and elected officials who have – through advocacy, special events, and funding – “adopted” Queens’ parks as their own, and made 2011’s improvements possible.

And we’re always on the lookout for new volunteers to help keep Queens’ parks clean, green and beautiful. If you want more information about volunteer opportunities visit nyc.gov/parks.

We’re working for a greener, cleaner 2012, and look forward to seeing you in the beautiful parks of Queens!

Dorothy Lewandowski is the Parks Department’s Queens Borough Commissioner.

Jackson Heights schoolyard is 200th to become playground


| mpantelidis@queenscourier.com

Renderings Courtesy of the Parks Department

One of the city’s most congested communities is getting a little extra room to breathe.

Schoolyards at P.S. 69 and I.S. 145 in Jackson Heights are being transformed into student-designed playgrounds that will be open to the public on weekdays after school until dusk and on weekends from 8 a.m. to dusk.

The renovations aim to provide the neighborhood with more open space, answering the calls from community leaders and local elected officials.

“My council district ranks 50 out of 51 districts in the city with regards to park space,” said Councilmember Daniel Dromm. “Jackson Heights is the second neediest district in terms of park space, according to the New Yorkers for Parks Survey. This transition will create new, open space for people to use for recreational activities, to sit and relax and enjoy a newspaper or just to take in some fresh air, and it provides my constitutions with something they have been telling me they want desperately –  open space and green space.”

The councilmember believes the additional park space will also foster growth in Jackson Heights and encourage youthful visitors and prospective residents to enter the community.

“We have seen an influx of young families moving into the neighborhood, and open park space and good schools are the two things these families are most looking for,” Dromm said. “The open spaces will make this a great place to raise your kids. The added benefit is that parks raise property value and makes the neighborhood more desirable to people looking to purchase a new home. These playgrounds will contribute to the desirability of living in Jackson Heights.”

The renovations were made as part of PlaNYC’s Schoolyards to Playgrounds program, which aims to ensure all New Yorkers live within a 10 minute walk of a park or playground. The city has invested $87.6 million to convert approximately 230 schoolyards into playgrounds by 2013.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg was joined by Parks and Recreation Commissioner Adrian Benepe, Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott and Jackson Heights elected officials on November 30 at the recently-completed playground at P.S. 69, located at 77-02 37th Avenue, to announce that the school was the 200th member of the Schoolyards to Playgrounds program.

“Since 2002, our administration has been committed to creating new public parks and new open spaces of every kind,” said Bloomberg. “PlaNYC, our long-term sustainability agenda, identified public schoolyards that could be opened up year-round in neighborhoods most in need of open space. Despite the economic downturn, we’ve maintained our commitment to this innovative program and we are delivering on our promise. In a time of tight budgets, our schoolyards represent a great opportunity for transforming existing, underused resources into something we can all enjoy.”

According to a Parks Department spokesperson, schools selected for the Schoolyards to Playgrounds initiative are usually in underserved neighborhoods. I.S. 145’s playground, located at 33-34 80th Street, is scheduled for completion during the summer of 2012. Both the P.S. 69 and I.S. 145 projects cost approximately $300,000, according to the source.

As part of the initiative, representatives from the Trust for Public Land, a non-profit organization and the city’s premier partner in the program, visit the schools to gather the opinions and ideas of community members, faculty and students to incorporate into the designs of the parks.

Dromm says he hopes the city can also complete the purchase of the roughly 29,000-square-feet of  park land beside the Garden School, located at 33-16 79th Street – across the street from Jackson Heights’ Travers Park. According to the councilmember, who has contributed $5 million in funding to the project, the mayor’s office is currently working to acquire the land.

The Jackson Heights Beautification Group is facilitating the discussions between the Garden School and the city, in hopes that the deal can benefit the cash-strapped school by providing an influx of capital.

“This would be a win, win, win for the Garden School, Parks Department and Jackson Heights,” said Edwin Westely, president of the Jackson Heights Beautification Group, who believes the purchase of the land imminent. “Jackson Heights gets more open space, the Parks Department would get more parks land and the school will be helped out with funds.”