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Park to offer respite on Queens Blvd.

Public officials joined city Parks Commissioner Henry Stern last...

By Dustin Brown

Weary pedestrians crossing Queens Boulevard in Woodside will enjoy an uncharacteristically green layover when renovations on a park set in the middle of the roadway are completed this fall.

Public officials joined city Parks Commissioner Henry Stern last Thursday to break ground on Joe Sabba Triangle, a nearly half acre plot of land wedged in the middle of Queens Boulevard as it intersects Roosevelt Avenue, just beyond the bend of the No. 7 train.

The renovations will render the triangle “more attractive, more inviting, and better suited to bring respite to the public,” Stern said at the beginning of the ceremony.

Funding for the $500,000 renovation was secured by City Councilman Walter McCaffrey (D-Woodside), who described the project as the latest in a long history of parks he and Stern have collaborated on to rebuild over the course of their tenures.

A park “says to the community that we have got strength,” McCaffrey said.

Speakers at the groundbreaking tried to downplay the dangers and notoriety of Queens Boulevard, a seven-mile roadway on which 74 pedestrians have been killed since 1993.

“This is Main Street to us,” said Community Board 2 Chairman Joseph Conley, whose district covers Woodside, Sunnyside, and Long Island City. “It’s a great intersection.”

In its present state the park offers little protection from the urban commotion that surrounds it as speakers acknowledged by pausing every few minutes to allow the No. 7 train to thunder past on its elevated tracks.

Although thin patches of grass sit along the western end of the triangle, the grounds are primarily covered in cement or red brick with hardly any vegetation rising above a few inches in height.

The renovation will replace the park’s benches and guardrails while dramatically expanding its greenery through the addition of trees and new plantings.

“I know how much a beautiful park does for family harmony,” state Assemblywoman Cathy Nolan (D-Ridgewood) told the crowd.

The park was renamed last year for Joe Sabba, a World War II veteran who founded the Sunnyside Drum and Bugle Corps and served for many years as the editor of the Woodside Herald. Sabba, who died at age 83 on May 26, 1999 was represented at the ceremony by his son Buster Sabba.

Even before the renaming, speakers said Sabba’s memory was already indelibly inscribed in the history of the triangle, where for a quarter century he led the Sunnyside Flag Day Parade.

A granite memorial honoring “Our Glorious War Heroes” has sat in the middle of the park since 1976, a project that came to fruition largely with Sabba’s help.

“For years this park had very special meaning for to us,” McCaffrey said. “Joe Sabba brought us here to celebrate the American flag.”

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

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