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Photo by Joe Anuta
By Joe Anuta

The kayak launch at MacNeil Park is on the horizon, the Queens Parks commissioner said at last week’s College Point Civic meeting, meaning residents may soon be able to take to the open waters with their self-propelled vessels.

“I think we are relatively close on this,” said Commissioner Dorothy Lewandowski, referring to the proposed launch at the group’s monthly gathering at The Poppenhusen Institute, at 114-04 14th Road.

The community has sought a sandy launching point at the park for years, and though the project is on its way to becoming a reality, there are a few more hurdles to clear before residents can take to the water.

The department is still seeking a private partner to help run and maintain the launch, Lewandowski said, and until that happens it will remain firmly on the drawing board.

According to civic members, the plans do not yet include a shed or rental program, but the neighborhood would like to see one in the future.

State Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) also spoke at the meeting and discussed the nature of politics just before Albany lets out for the summer.

The state Legislature has passed a flurry of bills, he said, many of them having no chance of actually becoming law.

Typically, a legislator in the state Assembly will seek out a sponsor in the state Senate, or vice versa, to give a bill a better chance of passing.

But many bills get passed in the waning days of the session without support in both houses. It is a way for lawmakers to show something to their constituents without actually producing tangible results, Avella said.

Prompted by a question from the audience, Lewandowski also discussed the nuances of stump removal in Queens, which not only explained why 16,000 of them are awaiting removal, but also offered insight into how city departments have to prioritize when funding is scarce.

As with most things in New York City, it all came down to money.

The city Parks Department focuses its efforts on removing the potentially hazardous trees, which are often considered dangerous due to dead limbs and trunks. If an oak is about to keel over onto a city street, that presents a safety concern.

Tree and stump removal is funded by the mayor’s budget, but according to Lewandowski, times are lean.

In 2012, Forestry’s funding dropped to $7.2 million from $8 million the year before, a drop of 10 percent, and funding declined 24 percent from $9.5 million in 2010, according to budget figures.

Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at januta@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.

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