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The Civic Scene: Cunningham Park gears up for activities

The Big Apple Circus is over, but the Metropolitan Opera is scheduled for Wednesday, June 22. The opera will present "Tosca" at 8 p.m. I am sure that a number of people will come early with their picnic baskets and liquid refreshments to eat and drink under the stars. Bring your own blankets and/or chairs.The next big event will be the New York Philharmonic on Thursday, July 14. This is the biggest event of the year in Cunningham Park with fireworks following the show. I don't have the time of this event, but most people come early with their families to eat and drink and enjoy the show, often by candlelight. Many candidates for office will come by. Come early, or you will have to walk eight or 10 blocks. There is plenty of parking in the West Cunningham Park Civic Association neighborhood, but please, don't block driveways.The Queens Jewish Community Council sponsors a series of Jewish concerts given by popular singers and bands. State Sen. Frank Padavan is a generous donor to the series. The concerts are on July 6, 13 and 20 and Aug. 23 and 30 at 7 p.m. Due to the renovations in Cunningham Park they will be held on the grass to the east of the parking lot off of Union Turnpike and 196th Place.There will be an antique car show on Sunday, Aug. 28, in one of the parking lots. The Queens Parks Council would like to present a show of music from the 1950s and 1960s. Nothing is definite, so keep a lookout in the TimesLedger or call 311 for news.Cunningham Park has many facilities for such sports as tennis, baseball, softball, football, cricket, basketball, bocce (closed for 2005 season), children's playgrounds, jogging, walking and has an oval and barbecue/picnic area. The after-school center, senior center and summer day camp will be closed for the 2005 season due to renovations.Portable potties are available, while the main facilities next to the tennis courts are finally being renovated. However, many days there is no work being done on the site. They did say it would take 18 months. It will be handicapped accessible. I remember that the fine looking restroom on 73rd Avenue near the Clearview Expressway took about three years to build. I like to say that they put down one stone a day. As they say, you get what you pay for. The toilet in the upper parking lot, south of the great lawn and oval track, will be open.Cunningham Park is very heavily used, as it should be, but this means wear and tear. More renovation must be done. The ground is green now due to the April and May rain, but by July and August it will again be dry and dusty. A sprinkler system should be installed or rolling sprinklers should be used. The great lawn inside the walking/jogging track (no bicycles permitted), has to be leveled with some watering system provided.The renovation of the park office and comfort station is finally being done due to money provided by City Councilman David Weprin. The Vanderbilt Parkway track was paved due to Assemblyman Mark Weprin.The Friends of Cunningham Park and the West Cunningham Park Civic Association have been active in obtaining money for these renovations and watching over them. The Friends of Cunningham Park obtained grants to build a butterfly garden near 193rd Street. They placed benches along the Oval, obtained information kiosks and obtained a Kaplan grant for trail restoration. The fence and the sidewalk along 193rd Street have been rebuilt by Parks. Japanese cherry trees have just been planed on the park side of 193rd Street to act a barrier to keep noise inside the park. There will be a ceremony some time in the future, according to Friends of Cunningham Park President Marc Haken.Now if we can just obtain some money to renovated the walking/jogging path and the great lawn inside the oval then Cunningham Park will be in good shape. By the way, those green bags around newly planted trees are called gater bags. They hold about 10 gallons of water and slowly water the new trees so they do not die in the summer heat. The Parks water truck should come around about three times this summer, but this will not be enough so hopefully some of you nature loving residents will put water in them. The Cunningham Park department phone number is 718-217-6452.Good news of the weekA lot is being done to renovate the heavily used and badly worn Cunningham Park.Bad news of the weekThe city keeps taking money from the Parks budget and doesn't give Parks the money obtained from concessions in the Parks.

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