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The Civic Scene: Cunningham Park renovations continue

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Two groups are working to obtain money for the renovation of the western part of Cunningham Park. Leaders of the West Cunningham Park Civic Association and the Friends of Cunningham Park are working to increase funds through private grants, from Councilman David Weprin’s available money, by utilizing volunteers or by having the Parks Department do some repairs by using internal workers and resources.

The Friends of Cunningham Park applied for a grant from the JM Kaplan Fund. Some of the money was used to buy a gater for the park. A gater is a small vehicle with a carry space in back and permits the occupants to get to areas of the park where there are no paths or roads.

A March 25 ceremony was held in the cold, in the area south of the Dog Run on 193rd Street where Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe accepted the gater. Present were Councilman David Weprin, Councilman Jim Gennaro and Assemblyman Mark Weprin, as well as Sylvia Weprin Feinstein, who is parks chair of CB 8, Marc Haken, Martha Taylor and Diane Cohen from the Friends of Cunningham Park and CB 8, Martin Olesh and Bob Harris from West Cunningham Park Civic Association and the Friends of Cunningham Park. Also present were Thomas Panzone and Jim Cafaro from the Parks Department, the latter being manager of Cunningham Park, and Queens Park Commissioner Rich Murphy.

The gater already has been used to get to a back area of the park where a homeless man was living. His property was removed in the gater. A water tank can be put in back and if there is water available, it can be used to shower plants and trees.

Recently Jim Cafaro and several members of the Friends of Cunningham Park toured the park to examine five separate areas where projects are being proposed. There is a desire to plant a grove of flowering trees at the intersection of Francis Lewis Boulevard and Union Turnpike along l99th Street Strip. Second, bat houses are proposed in the Southeast Preserve. Bats eat insects such as mosquitoes. A butterfly garden is planned for the core area of the western part, north of the playground toward the 81st Avenue entrance. Along the main road leading through the core area, low guard rails will prevent damage to the margins and discourage parking which leads to erosion. Finally, the nature paths in the woods south of the parking lots should be renovated. Money and workers would come from various sources.

Panzone reported that during Greek Week on April 13 fraternities and sororities from St. John’s University had about 200 volunteers cleaning up the road in the southwest part of the park which leads to the Highway 3 headquarters. The students spent more than an hour cleaning up and removed about 25 cubic yards of trash, weeds and vines.

Marty Olish and Milton and Florence Feld have attended the last meeting of the Queens Parks Coalition. This coalition of civic groups is pressing to have the city provide adequate funding for our parks. The City Council Parks Committee chairman, Councilman Joe Addabbo Jr., was the featured speaker at the last meeting. It has been reported that the City Council wants to restore about 97 percent of the original money allocated to parks prior to the mayor’s proposed cuts; not that the original amount was a lot. About four weeks ago, the state and city budgets had not been finalized so we don’t know what will be allocated where and by whom.

We are working with Councilman David Weprin to see what amount of his discretionary money can be used to repair the badly eroded and neglected areas in the western part of the park near 193rd Street.

The Parks Department is working on a design for renovating the comfort stations in the western part of the parks building opposite the tennis court. The toilets are old, decried, small and not handicapped accessible, which is a violation of several laws. Money was allocated last year by Councilman Sheldon Leffler.

GOOD AND BAD NEWS OF THE WEEK

The Long Island Motor Parkway has official status on the State Registry of Historic Places. I hope it will receive federal approval soon.

Some people are starting to worry about the future of Social Security and Medicare. Oh, it sounds good when a tax cut is voted by Congress but a permanent tax cut seems foolish when we must spend trillions on the war on terror and homeland security. The government is borrowing from the Social Security, Medicare and other trust funds just to fund what is being spent and not to go above the federal debt limit. Oh politics, what they will do just to win an election.

Posted 7:04 pm, October 10, 2011
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