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Boro groups, city to link 10 Queens waterfront parks

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A coalition of six western Queens community groups is aiming for a greener tomorrow by leading an initiative that would link 10 Astoria and Long Island City waterfront parks along an 11−mile stretch via bicycle and pedestrian paths.

Green Shores NYC, made up of western Queens groups and businesses, released a map in mid−October that points out the locations of all 10 Astoria and Long Island City−based parks to promote the use of green space along the borough’s waterfront. The group is working with the City Parks Foundation and the city Parks and Transportation departments on a project that would connect the parks and could take as long as 10 years to complete.

“We’ve found that a lot of people in the community only go to parks in their immediate neighborho­od,” said Ilana Teitel, a Green Shores NYC spokeswoman. “There’s a lot of construction along the river, so we want to make sure public access to the waterfront is enhanced.”

The project would link Ralph DeMarco Park, Astoria Park, Whitey Ford Field, Goodwill Triangle, Socrates Sculpture Park, Hallets Cove, Hallets Cove Playground, Rainey Park, Queensbridge Park and Gantry Plaza State Park.

The western Queens parks provide more than 110 acres of waterfront green space to borough residents. The project would expand space for bicyclists, walkers and kayakers as well as other sports and recreational activities.

For years, the borough’s waterfront has been the home of industrial complexes and, more recently, provided construction space for a bevy of high−end apartment buildings.

David Rivel, executive director of the City Parks Foundation, said the project to promote and connect the parks has been underway for four years. He said the foundation has spent $1 million in promoting educational programs, concerts and sports programs at the sites.

But he said the city would need to acquire land to proceed with the project and that Green Shores NYC would need to convince corporations along the waterfront, such as KeySpan, to allow bicycle paths and pedestrian walkways to cut through their property.

“They’d have to negotiate with major entities along the waterfront and acquire some parcels,” he said. “It’s a long−term project.”

Last summer, the city eliminated parking along a stretch of Vernon Boulevard in Long Island City to make way for the extension of a bicycle lane between the Queensboro and Triborough bridges.

City Councilman Eric Gioia (D−Sunnyside) said he has long been an advocate of opening the western Queens waterfront back up to borough residents. But he said he longed to see a trail of green space that stretched from Staten Island to the Bronx.

“It’s the right thing to do and I hope we can do it within the next decade,” he said.

Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e−mail at news@timesledger.com or by phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 156.

Posted 6:38 pm, October 10, 2011
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