City should not cut budget of Parks Department

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Last week, Queens Parks Department representatives held their yearly consultation with Community Board 8. Leading the discussion were Operations Chief Jacqueline Langsam and Staff Chief JoAnn Amagrande with other Queens Parks officials.

Representing CB 8 were District Manager Marie Adam-Ovide, Kew Gardens Hills Civic President Patricia Dolan and Friends of Cunningham Park President Marc Haken and founder Martha Taylor.

Parks reported about its removal of dead trees and stumps, pruning broken limbs, taking care of uprooted trees, tree planting, block pruning contracts and green street programs. It is working on green streets for this fall at Jewel Avenue, 73rd Avenue and 179th Street. Tree block pruning is now on a seven-year cycle, but people can call in any low branches to CB 8 at 718-264-7895 or 311.

Park maintenance is ongoing. There are two master gardeners for CB 8, but more people are needed. Mayor Michael Bloomberg has called for a 5 percent cut in city agencies' budgets. Parks usually gets cut more than others. Many volunteers are valuable to maintaining parks. On Oct. 25, there will be another It's My Park Day. For information, call Partnership for Parks at 212-360-1357.

The West Cunningham Park Civic Association is concerned there are too many events that strain Cunningham Park and some groups come late at night to party. There seems to be little or no Parks Enforcement Patrol or Urban Park Rangers presence. This is under discussion.

Cunningham Park has walking and fitness programs. There is a seven-week summer camp and a senior citizens center in the old day-care building. Parks has mobile units that can come to neighborhoods for recreational activities.

There were reports on the status of CB 8 capital budget activities. The Utopia Playground rehabilitation is almost done. The restoration of ball fields 1-5 in Cunningham Park near l93rd Street and landscaping and erosion control are in the budget, but given the proposed cuts, they might go. A new catch basin east of the lower parking lot has been finished.

Also, the fence repair from 193rd Street around Avon Road to 188th Street is in the budget as of now. Plans are continuing for renovation of the toilets on 193rd Street near 82nd Avenue and moving the dog run to the south. The latter will use state money. Field 20, east of the Clearview Expressway along 73rd Avenue, is slated to be repaired in 2009 with money donated by groups associated with St. Francis Prep, which uses this field, but it will be open to use by others.

There is a desire to convert Hoover Playground from concrete to Little League baseball fields, but there is no money.

Local interested groups have to keep speaking up for their projects. It was reported that money has been allocated for the Captain Tilley Park goose pond, public education and erosion control.

There are currently no funds for the Briarwood Mall promenade extension.

Parks will keep repairing sidewalks lifted by roots. Funded by state Assemblywoman Nettie Mayersohn (D-Flushing), there will be a gate controlled by parents and caregivers to separate the play area from the rest of the park at Freedom Square Park.

There is a desire to refurbish landscaping at Hyam Solomon Triangle. Although there is a wish for new plants on the 64th Avenue mall from 185th Street to Utopia Parkway, there are no funds.

There is a hope to build an environmental center in the Natural Area of Flushing Meadows Corona Park, but there is no money. There are plans to add bathrooms near ball fields in the park's southern section.

New requests are to create green streets at 73rd Avenue between Main Street and 141st Street and at 71st Road and 136th Street, plus to rehabilitate and add equipment at Abe Wolfson Triangle.

GOOD AND BAD NEWS OF THE WEEK: The mayor wants to add 1 million trees by 2030 and people keep asking for green streets, but money to maintain these places is not provided or is the first to be cut.

Right now, trees planted along Union Turnpike and on side streets and other malls are full of weeds. They were not weeded this summer even though I called the problem in to CB 8 and 311.

Sanitation is supposed to take care of mall tree pits and Parks the trees on local streets. Many tree pits are full of weeds. Other groups complained of this problem at the recent meeting of the Coalition for Parks and Green Spaces.

Updated 6:38 pm, October 10, 2011
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