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Neighbor to Neighbor: Rainey Park daffodils ready for spring bloom

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Speaking of rain, on Oct. 9, a day that was very much the opposite of being rainy, the Queens Coalition for Parks and Green Spaces, represented by Frederick J. Kress, president; Joseph Locoteta, vice president and me, secretary, participated with New Yorkers for Parks and a lot of other wonderfully ambitious people at Rainey Park. Until that day, I had known almost nothing about Rainey Park.It is a waterfront site located in the Astoria/Ravenswood neighborhood area, the 26th Council District. The area of the park is eight acres. There are trees of all kinds and a great expanse of grassy, open space dotted with benches and a park house. Steps lead down a steep hill to the fenced water's edge. There is also fencing of the park perimeter on Vernon Boulevard.The purpose of the event was to extend The Daffodil Project, which had been started as a memorial to the victims of Sept. 11. New Yorkers for Parks, represented by Christian Di Palermo, Ilana Cohen, Vinette Brown, Allison Farina and Annamaria Jones, had provided 1,200 daffodil bulbs to be planted along the fencing of the park on Vernon Boulevard and by the steps leading to the waterfront. Although Dorothy Lewandowski had only recently been appointed Queens Parks commissioner, both she and First Deputy Commissioner Liam Kavanagh arrived to help with the planting, as did Philip Sparacio, deputy chief of operations, Queens, and Daniel S. Burnstein, Rainey Park gardener, all representing the city Department of Parks and Recreation.Partnership for Parks' Outreach Coordinator Helen Ho was right there, too, as she always is when help is needed. Jamila Diggs, a member of Councilman Eric Gioia's staff was also there to help and Myra Jones, representing Our Lady of Lourdes Church did likewise. J.P. Morgan Chase supported the project with seven representatives: Mariellen Cochius, Ana Ferreira, Andrea Osborne, Chantel Osborne, Cyron Osborne, Fanny Wong and Andrew Baksh, who also brought along family members, Yocasta, Sebastian and Ian.Carol Sherry and Serene Dhondy were helpers representing PS 117 Community Garden, while Kayles Giez came from the 41-42 Block Association. Noah Kaufman represented LIC Roots, Philip Coffin represented NYRP, and Elyssa East and Bevan Walker were there from NOLS. Many unaffiliated volunteers including Charles Taylor, Elizabeth Werbe, Kay Dunhan, S.N. Graham and Beth Bailis signed in and other park users, including one friendly young lady with a very talented German Shepherd stopped by to assist and did a great job.Since dogs often like to dig, we asked that young lady if her dog did so. She assured us he did and then put him to work immediately. He was so enthusiastic, in fact, that sometimes we had to stop him from digging too deep. Since digging on a steep hill in soil that is a bit hard and stony isn't the easiest thing to do, that sweet dog suddenly was not only that lady's best friend, we all adopted him as our best friend too, at least for that day.Maybe by the time you read this all those daffodil bulbs that were planted that day in Rainey Park will be in full bloom. I hope a lot of folks go there and enjoy and appreciate their beauty. There will be more opportunities to volunteer in that or other parks.When you are in one of them and see loose debris there, we'd certainly appreciate having anyone pick up and dispose of them properly, especially since the Department of Parks and Recreation (already understaffed) had its budget cut further. Other volunteer park work such as planting, weeding, trimming, etc., must be pre-approved.To volunteer in southeast Queens parks, contact Laura Prussin at 718-520-5961; for north Queens parks call Tom Panzone at 718-520-5948. They are from the Department of Parks and Recreation. Or, you can call Helen Ho with Partnership for Parks at 718-520-5913, or call Annamaria Jones at New Yorkers for Parks at 212-838-9410 ext. 238, or visit www.ny4p.org.You are also invited to participate in Parks Advocacy Day on April 20. If you are interested in the latter, please contact Annamaria Jones at the above number. We'll all appreciate whatever help you can and will give to improve our parks.

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