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The Civic Scene: NE Queens historic path offers picturesque setting

Cunningham Park is one of the most widely used parks in Queens, where people can walk, jog and ride bicycles.

One of the paths in the park is the old Vanderbilt Motor Parkway, which has been upgraded with money obtained by Assemblyman Mark Weprin (D-Bayside). The western end of the path starts in Fresh Meadows at Peck (199th Street) and 67th avenues.

It heads south and crosses over 73rd Avenue on an original bridge. From there it turns east at 75th Avenue and crosses over Springfield Boulevard. The path is smooth, but the bridges have inclines.

The pathway meanders through woods and comes out just south of baseball fields south of 73rd Avenue. Farther east is a passageway under the Clearview Expressway, where there is a parking lot to the west of Hollis Court Boulevard. On weekdays it is used by commuters going to Manhattan. Here one can enter the Vanderbilt Motor Parkway and walk, jog or bicycle to Alley Park.

The whole area is picturesque and pleasant. At the western end of Cunningham Park there is a very nice circular track at the junction of Union Turnpike and 193rd Street. To the north and west are the homes of West Cunningham Park Civic Association members. No bicycles are permitted on this jogging track, which is fairly smooth and about a mile long.

Most of it has been recently paved through the efforts of previous park manager Jim Cafarro and with the help of the Department of Transportation, but there are a couple of cracked areas to the south and north that could be dangerous. There also is soil erosion on part of the path.

The civic is working to have these problems fixed. The West Cunningham Park Civic and the Friends of Cunningham Park work to renovate and improve the park. Many people volunteer their time in different ways.

One warning is that it can be so crowded, especially in the mornings, that one may have trouble jogging. Note that it is illegal to park along 193rd Street on weekends due to noise concerns, but there are three parking lots inside the park. Many users just walk to the park. That is what I do.

GOOD NEWS OF THE WEEK

During a visit to the 114th Precinct Community Council in Astoria, Mayor Mike Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly stated that crime is down 14 percent from last year. This is good news; the only problem is that the mayor is using these statistics to say that the New York Police Department can do a good job with less resources if the police budget is cut next year.

We have to be careful that cutting the budget to police, schools and other municipal services doesn’t lower our quality of life.

Crime statistics for the 107th Precinct show that as of March 2003, there were 363 acts of crime. During the same time frame last year, 435 crimes were reported. This is a reduction of 16.55 percent in the seven leading areas of murder, rape, robbery, felony assault, burglary, grand larceny and grand larceny auto.

My only concern is that some people don’t report crimes, so statistics don’t really show what is going on.

BAD NEWS OF THE WEEK

I recently read that the New York City administration is considering swapping our airports for money and the Port Authority World Trade Center land. Previous mayors have talked about selling city property for needed money during fiscal hard times, but they never did.

Cash is needed, but if we sell the property we will lose it, unless a strong argument can be made that the city can profit from the Lower Manhattan land, thus compensating for the value of the airports.

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