The Civic Scene: Lecturer seeks historic status for Motor Pkwy.

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Bob Miller, historian for Motor Parkway as well as Vanderbilt Parkway, works

very hard to tell the story of this first toll highway in the metropolitan area. Miller recently

retired from the Queens Borough Public Library with more than 40 years of service and holding various

positions such as mailroom clerk, switchboard operator, secretary in the engineering

department and audio-visual technician, a position he held for 27 years.

Miller also was a volunteer at the library’s Long Island division, where he did research and

acted as an exhibit curator. Since 1968 he has been the historian/lecturer for Motor

Parkway. He also lectures on other transportation and historic subjects.

Miller has authored

articles on Motor Parkway for the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and the Long Island Studies Institute, is a

trustee on the Wilmington, Del. Steamboat Foundation, edited the New York Harbor

vessel history “The Boats We Rode” for Quadrant Press, 1974, and is a trustee (Motor

Parkway historian) for the Garden City Toll Lodge Preservation Association with the aim

to preserve Garden City’s Motor Parkway Toll House.

Miller keeps busy as a board member of the Friends of Cunningham Park and is on its

Motor Parkway Landmarks Committee. When the Friends of Cunningham Park recently

held a dedication ceremony for the state and federal designation of Motor Parkway

as a historic site, Miller gave a brief history of the parkway and then lectured on

board the quaint trolley, which was rented for the occasion from Flushing Meadows

Corona Park, as it rode along the length of the parkway for a special tour.

He is now working on getting the parkway designated a historic site in New York City and attends meetings of the Friends of Cunningham Park in the preschool

building in Cunningham Park.

At the last meeting, Councilman David Weprin

(D-Hollis) honored James Cafaro, former manager of Cunningham Park who is now assigned

to Howard Beach, with a certificate. The new manager is Ceryl Reiter, who is continuing the group’s park projects. Her phone number

is 1-718-217-6348. She attended the last meeting of the West Cunningham Park Civic

Association to talk about the park and its continual, gradual renovation.

President Marc Haken reported that bat houses are being built and will be placed in the

Southern Preserve part of Cunningham Park near the Clearview Expressway. Bats are a

natural way to keep down the number of objectionable insects without using insecticides.

Plans are progressing for a butterfly garden south of the playground along 193rd Street near

Aberdeen Road. People are looking into the cost of an ornamental fence to

keep soccer balls and baseballs out of the garden. They are looking at ways of getting water

into the area for the plants that will attract the butterflies.

The Friends of Cunningham Park have obtained several grants from the Kaplan Fund, Assemblyman Mark Weprin (D-Bayside) and state Sen. Frank Padavan (R-Bellerose). Julie Mankiewicz, professor of environmental studies at Queens College, is using a federal recreation trails grant to restore the trails in the Southeast Preserve of the park near the Clearview Expressway. Her students are doing the work as part of their class. Signage will be placed along the renovated trails.

The fixing of the Union Turnpike entrance of Cunningham Park has started with the use of a grant from our previous councilman, Sheldon Leffler. The city is still working on plans to renovate the comfort station in the eastern end of the park near the tennis courts. The money for this came from grants by Leffler and David Weprin.

Due to the fiscal crisis, the needed renovations will be done piecemeal using Parks Department workers and grants obtained by volunteer groups such as the Friends of Cunningham Park and the West Cunningham Park Civic Association.

Volunteers can join the above groups to help these volunteers.

Good and Bad News of the Week

United Airlines has taken the Chapter 11 route. Everyone except the mechanics union had agreed to a wage cut. Reading statistics in the papers, I note that United had the highest wage costs in the industry. We are here in this nation because of the higher living standard, yet our costs are very high, perhaps too high for the rest of the developing world.

I also note that these new small airlines provide fewer services and probably pay their workers less money. It is nice that we have big meals, but are all those costly luxuries necessary as long as the plane leaves on time?

I had been bothered in the past by all those flights scheduled by all the big airlines at the same time almost every hour. When I flew, I noticed the planes were only one-third or one-half full. This is very expensive. All those planes leaving at the same time had bothered the communities under the planes’ flight paths.

Well, now a lot of those planes have been mothballed on the desert out west somewhere. The reality of economics and the Sept. 11 tragedy has finally caused some changes in the airline industry — I hope for the better.

Updated 10:26 am, October 12, 2011
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