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MacDonald Park gets face-lift with new grass, tables, benches

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Residents present at Monday's ribbon-cutting ceremony said the additional grass, shrubs, tables and benches made for a more welcoming haven to take a breather before immersing themselves back in the traffic jungle along Queens Boulevard."It looked like garbage," commented one senior couple of the park's pre-makeover days. "Now it's beautiful."Last summer City Councilwoman Melinda Katz (D-Forest Hills) took a gamble with her constituents' patience by persuading the city Parks Department to close up the three-block stretch that divides Queens Boulevard and its west side service road for a few months to make room for a mass renovation."When the fence went up, the first question was 'when is the fence coming down?'" she said at the podium Monday with the bronze statue of World War I soldier and former Forest Hills resident Capt. Gerald MacDonald poised in the background.Fortunately, her plan and the funding she secured in this year's budget pulled through and the crowd listening to the councilwoman applauded her for it.Along with the greenery and the benches to line the walkway, the construction, done by the Queens Capital Project, added drinking fountains, a drip irrigation system and a few chess and checker tables, which two men pounced on immediately following the ceremony.Another addition, perhaps most crucial to the elderly who frequent the park, is the row of speed bump-like clamps atop each raised concrete surface to deter skateboarding."They'll now have to go to Flushing or Forest Park," Katz said to cheers from seniors who say they are tired of trying to rest on benches while teenagers do allies in front of them.The councilwoman, who has in the past participated in several ribbon-cuttings for new and revised parks and playgrounds in her district, reminded the crowd that the Austin Street Park is next in line to open in June.Sitting on a stone bench in the afternoon sun, Claire Botwinick, who lives directly across Queens Boulevard, said of the refurbished MacDonald Park, which she visits almost daily: "All we need to see now is if it gets its upkeep so it can last."Reach reporter Zach Patberg by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 155.

Posted 7:06 pm, October 10, 2011
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