Group plans Web site, 5K to boost NE Queens parks

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Q4U, short for “Queens for You,” a group founded by Bayside...

By Ayala Ben-Yehuda

An organization founded last year to promote recreational activities in northeast Queens parks is moving ahead with plans for a new and improved Web site as well as a 5K run in the fall.

Q4U, short for “Queens for You,” a group founded by Bayside residents and park enthusiasts Barbara Gillespie and AnnMarie DiNenno, was awarded a $5,000 grant from the city Parks Department in January, said Gillespie.

The money is being used to develop a prototype of a Web site that when finished will contain comprehensive maps, activities listings and online tours similar to that of the Central Park Conservancy.

Q4U holds as its mission the organization, promotion and funding of sports and leisure events in northeast Queens parks such as Alley Pond, Cunningham, Crocheron and Kissena.

“Just because we’re Queens doesn’t mean we have to be the homely stepsister to Manhattan,” said Gillespie, who enjoys rollerblading, running and biking in local parks.

Northeast Queens contains slightly more than a third of the parkland in the borough — green space that Gillespie believes is underutilized.

“We are trying to motivate younger people in the neighborhood to get more involved,” said Gillespie. In order for people to be passionate about preserving natural areas, “you’ve got to get them to go to the parks,” she said.

One way to do that is through the development of a sophisticated Web site and Q4U’s rapidly growing mailing list and newsletter. Another way is through events; Q4U held a free fitness festival over five Sundays last fall with in-line skating lessons, a 10-mile bike ride, Little Bay Park clean-up and picnic.

The organization also organized a fund-raiser walk-a-thon for the Center for the Women of New York in May.

The group’s latest planned project is a 5K run in Crocheron Park scheduled for early fall, said Gillespie, with proceeds to benefit a yet-to-be-chosen “good cause.”

Though still small, Q4U is thinking big.

A survey conducted by Q4U found that “a lot of people...would like to see more concerts in the park,” she said.

“We thought it would be kind of cool for next summer to network with Flushing Town Hall,” said Gillespie, who envisions a Bayside jazz festival.

The growth of a youth-friendly, vibrant northeast Queens park culture will take more coordination and networking with local politicians, the Parks Department and the community at large for support, said Gillespie.

“We’ve learned that it helps to join forces with others,” she said.

Reach reporter Ayala Ben-Yehuda by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 146.

Posted 7:17 pm, October 10, 2011
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