Tag Archives: Queens Parks Commissioner Dorothy Lewandowski

Bowne House restoration breaks ground


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of the Parks Department

Officials broke ground last week on a $3.2 million project to preserve a historic Flushing gem.

A 17th century symbol of religious freedom, the Bowne House will get a new roof, gutters, pipes, wood wall shingles and steel columns, among other exterior restorations.

“The Bowne House helped to shape our history and now it is time for us to take care of its future for a new generation,” said Borough President Helen Marshall, who helped secure part of its funding.

Queens Parks Commissioner Dorothy Lewandowski said the site is a symbol of tolerance and diversity.

It was built in the 1660s by John Bowne and used for Quaker meetings when religious diversity was forbidden by law.

The city-landmarked house closed for restoration this spring.

“The house is both historically and architecturally significant,” said Historic House Trust executive director Franklin Vagnone, “and this restoration will ensure it is preserved for the thousands of visitors and school children who will visit the house each year.”

Renovations are expected to be complete by the end of the year, a Parks spokesperson said.

However, officials are yet to determine the time frame for interior construction including strengthening the first-floor framing.

 

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Flushing Meadows gets new volleyball courts


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

The largest park in Queens now has five new volleyball courts thanks to an assist from the borough president.

“Who would have thought that Flushing Meadows, once a swamp and an ash dump, is now a flagship park in Queens,” said Borough President Helen Marshall, who paid for the $450,000 project with capital discretionary funding.

The concrete courts, meant to keep players off the park’s grassy landscape, are the first of their kind on the eastern side of Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, officials said. Benches and handicapped-accessible paths were also installed near the nets.

Queens Parks Commissioner Dorothy Lewandowski joined Marshall, Parks officials and volunteers at a ribbon cutting ceremony on Tuesday to play the inaugural game.

Nearly $89 million in capital improvements have been made to the park, the fourth largest in the city, since 2002, officials said. New additions include a dock, renovated boathouse and rain gardens.

 

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More patrol officers coming to city parks


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

File photo

Officials from the Parks Department announced it will be adding 81 new Parks Enforcement Patrol officers (PEP) to help prevent crime in greenspaces around the city. Parks Commissioner Veronica White and Queens Parks Commissioner Dorothy Lewandowski made the announcement at the monthly meeting of the Astoria Civic Association.

Councilmember Peter F. Vallone Jr., chair of the Public Safety Committee, said he has been working to achieve this addition for over a year.

“Crime is rising in our parks, and a handful of officers to keep an entire borough of parkland safe just won’t cut it,” said Vallone.

He also said that last summer, he found out only one PEP officer was assigned to patrol parks in Queens.

“I’m glad the city has finally decided to hire more PEP officers, but we have to make sure Queens gets enough of them to keep people safe,” said Vallone.

The Parks Department hopes to have officers out in the parks by the middle of the summer after they receive training.

“These new officers will patrol parks in all of the five boroughs and will almost double the number of city-funded officers that we have on patrol,” said a Parks Department spokesperson.

 

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Parks Department finds new operator for Patrizia’s of Bayside


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

File photo

Patrizia’s of Bayside, the former site of Caffe on the Green and Valentino’s on the Green, has found a new operator, according to Queens Parks Commissioner Dorothy Lewandowski.

“We are very excited that a new concessionaire will be operating the former Valentino’s on the Green and look forward to the reopening,” said Lewandowski.

The new operator, 123 Restaurant Group is owned by George Makkos and Paul Nicaji. the pair who run the successful Battery Gardens restaurant in Battery Park. Makkos is also the operator of Terrace on the Park, located in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park.

Although 123 has not decided on a name for the future Italian restaurant, they are interested in keeping the Valentino connection and may call it Villa Valentino, said Lewandowski.

It is expected to open in about two months after they obtain a liquor license transfer and make some minor changes to the interior.

 

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Astoria Park pool to become performance space


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of the NYC Parks & Recreation

With its local arts community booming, the Astoria Park pool will now take a dive into becoming the first outdoor performance space in the neighborhood.

“Artists in Astoria will finally have a fitting performance space,” said Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr., a musician himself who is glad the plan is finally moving forward and has provided over $4.5 million in funding for this project.

Plans to convert the neglected and deteriorating diving pool into an amphitheater began around two years ago when Vallone and Queens Parks Commissioner Dorothy Lewandowski announced the transformation. “It will be one of the most beautiful in New York overlooking the river and skyline,” said Vallone.

The amphitheater will be located at the Astoria Park diving pool and will evoke ancient Rome and Greece with outdoor performances surrounded by nature and monuments.

“Astoria has been lacking in performance spaces for a long time, but turning this eyesore into a beautiful amphitheater will give our Queens artists a backdrop to match their talents,” said Vallone during a community board meeting last week.

Construction of the outdoor performing arts space is said to begin in about a year-and-a-half and will include pouring concrete into the pool, creating a new main entrance, installing new security fencing and gates, and other improvements. The diving board will remain and be refurbished.

The new space, which is located next to Astoria Park’s Olympic-sized swimming pool, will be open to theater groups, schools and community organizations. Along with this new outdoor space, Vallone is now looking for available indoor space in Astoria where artists’ works can call home in a creative and professional environment.

 

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Astoria pool set for rebirth


| smosco@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy of Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr.

Elected officials are diving right in to a project to repurpose a long-neglected pool in Astoria Park.

Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr. and Queens Parks Commissioner Dorothy Lewandowski announced plans to convert the dive pool at Astoria Park into an outdoor performance space, the first of its kind in the neighborhood.

“I’m especially proud to work with the Parks Department to turn what has become an eyesore into sorely-needed performance space,” said Vallone, who allocated $1 million for the project. “Some of the city’s brightest performers call Queens home, and they deserve one of the most beautiful locations in the city.  Nestled between the Hell Gate and Triborough Bridges with a view of the East River and the skyline at sunset, it will evoke the theaters of ancient Greek and Rome and will be truly majestic.”

The project will include pouring concrete into the pool, removing debris and existing small diving boards, creating seating areas, installing flooring, a new perimeter concrete walkway and tent canopy shade at the bleachers, among other improvements. The pool’s three-level diving board will remain and be refurbished.

Construction is tentatively set to begin in 2012, with possible completion coming in 2013.

“Astoria Park has long been one of Queens’ flagship recreational facilities, with opportunities for swimming, running, tennis and even skateboarding,” said Lewandowski. “Thanks to Councilmember Vallone’s generous allocation, we are now ‘diving’ into a new area of use – public performance space. This long unused space will be transformed to bring music, theater and more to residents of Astoria and the borough of Queens.”

Vallone is also providing $2 million for renovations to the Astoria Park pool rooftop and terrace and hopes to see a café-type concession there one day. Since taking office, he was instrumental in conceiving and funding Astoria Park’s state-of-the-art skate park.

Taryn Sacramone, executive director for the Astoria Performing Arts Center, said that the stage – in the center of one of the city’s most beautiful parks – will make the performing arts more accessible to the community.

“It will draw people to Astoria and provide artists with a unique space to share their talents,” she said. “The location is absolutely inspired and the possibilities are endless. Astoria will be much richer for it.”