Group Organizes For Future Of Astoria Park
About 17 residents gathered in the Steinway Reformed Church on Monday evening with one goal in mind: to spend a few hours brainstorming ways to protect a neighborhood treasure.
The gathering was the first step in forming an alliance to care for Astoria Park. It was facilitated by Helen Ho, the Queens Outreach Coordinator of Partnerships for Parks, a joint program of the Parks Department and the private, nonprofit City Parks Foundation.
Residents and representatives of local groups raised a variety of concerns, from keeping the playground in shape for the young kids, to allowing for dog walking, or providing spaces to throw a frisbee with friends. All held in common the idea that Astoria Park is an integral part of the community that must be maintained.
“It’s amazing,” said Ho, “that we have people with different interests here, yet meeting in the same room, collaborating on ideas. It’s inspiring.”
Some of the ideas brought up were beautifying the park beyond addressing the usual wear and tear, promoting the park through outreach, starting and maintaining a community bulletin that lists activities and park rules, addressing public health issues, making physical repairs, and installing gates with latches around the playground.
Some residents suggested additional cleanups of the park. Resident Clare Doyle pointed out that since 2004, there have been two cleanups a year conducted along the park’s East River shoreline.
Among the other residents’ desires for the park were additional trash cans and signs, a park awareness campaign, and even the construction of a mini soccer field.
Ho noted that the Parks Department faces the challenge of maintaining the parks with few staff. There are 84 properties, large and small, within the boundaries of Community Board 1 alone. At nearly 66 acres, Astoria Park is among the largest of them. “It’s not as if the voices of concern are being purposely neglected,” she said. “There’s just a lot to be done, and with limited resources.”
An organized park group, however, could help bring in more of those needed resources. Ho, who is also a resident of Astoria, assured the enthusiastic volunteers that her organization would work with residents to strengthen and support the parks, and bring in money through writing grants.
Ho recommended organizing a formal park friends’ group and seeking the support of elected officials, who can allocate city funds.
The next meeting of the Astoria Park group is scheduled for Tuesday, March 13, 6:30 p.m. at the Steinway Reformed Church, 21 65 41st St. (at Ditmars Boulevard) Astoria.
by Robert Trotta, Chronicle Correspondent
Entry filed under: Uncategorized. Tags: Queens.