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Grover Cleveland Park to get mini waterfall

Ridgewood residents will feel like they’re at Niagara Falls next summer if the city Parks Department pushes ahead with its plans to revamp Grover Cleveland Park.

The department’s proposed renovations of Grover Cleveland in Ridgewood and Frank Frontera Park in Maspeth were expected to be approved with recommended changes at Community Board 5’s Wednesday meeting, District Manager Gary Giordano said.

“The community board has been advocating for reconstruction of parks throughout the district for many years,” Giordano said. “Grover Cleveland Park for at least the last three years, if not longer, has been our No. 1 capital budget priority, so we’re looking forward to it.”

Grover Cleveland Park covers 5.1 acres next to the Linden Hill Cemetery on Metropolitan Avenue, while Frank Frontera Park occupies a pocket of land abutting the Long Island Expressway at 69th Street.

Before his presidency, Grover Cleveland was mayor of Buffalo, and park designers tried to recall his New York legacy with a layout reminiscent of Niagara Falls.

Under the plans, a mock-waterfall will spout mist along a bed of rocks nestled below a raised second tier, while another shower will spray from a boat below the waterfall. The playground will be upgraded to include distinct areas for tots, younger children and older children, and three full basketball courts and an assortment of benches are also planned.

One of the most significant changes is the construction of a park house, which will include a 500-square-foot multi-purpose room as well as bathroom facilities and storage space for maintenance equipment. The Parks Department plans to hire a playground associate to do maintenance in the morning and run recreation activities in the afternoon.

Borough President Claire Shulman secured $770,000 to build the comfort station, while City Councilman Thomas Ognibene (R-Middle Village) obtained $1.9 million for landscaping and to reconstruct the basketball courts and children’s playground.

Parks Department officials are now bidding for contractors and hope to begin construction by the middle of the summer, Queens Parks Chief of Staff JoAnne Amagrande-Savarese said.

Park officials hope the renovations will bring new life to a park which has been in disrepair and underused for years.

“If you go there on any given day, you don’t really see anybody,” Amagrande-Savarese said. “It’s not very appealing for moms and dads to bring their kids to. It’s very tired, it’s antiquated.”

Amagrande-Savarese said the Parks Department hopes to eventually get more funding for a second phase of renovations, which would improve the fields and handball court.

“We’re going to restore it to be the crown jewel that it was meant to be,” Amagrande-Savarese said.

The renovations to Frontera Park are “more cut-and-dry,” Amagrande-Savarese said — replacing what already exists in the park. Changes include the installation of state-of-the-art playground equipment as well as a new spray shower, swing set, and plantings.

The Frontera Park project will be completed with $750,000 obtained through the efforts of City Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz. (D-Forest Hills), Amagrande-Savarese said.

Reach reporter Dustin Brown by e-mail at Timesledgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 154.

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