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Photos by Suzanne Monteverdi/QNS
Photos by Suzanne Monteverdi/QNS
Douglaston resident Ann Jawin speaks in front of the vacant lot.

Some Douglaston residents see a field of dreams in a long-vacant lot in the neighborhood.

On May 30, state Senator Tony Avella and local leaders gathered in front of a grassy plot at 39th Avenue and 234th Street, which sits between St. Sarkis Armenian Apostolic Church and an adjacent home, to once again ask for a public park to rise up at the space.

“This is one of those situations which never seems to get addressed,” Avella said. “It’s 10 to 15 years that the community and I have been trying to get this piece of property that you see behind us made into a NYC park.”

In the 1960s, the city condemned the approximately 10,000-square-foot property for a road-building project which never materialized. About a decade ago, the neighboring church eyed the property — owned by the NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) — for a for-profit daycare, but dropped the plans after receiving strong opposition from local residents. The church also tried to purchase the land to build a parking lot to no avail.

Now, residents are renewing the call for the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) to take over the city-owned space and create a public park.

“As a senior citizen, if I want to take a walk, there’s no place to sit down,” said Ann Jawin, longtime resident and founder of the Doug Bay Civic Association. “It’s very important to have amenities. This could be a beautiful little vest pocket park. We don’t want anything major.”

“The important thing here is the city’s inactivity,” added Michael Gannon, president of the Douglas Manor Association. “Residents of Doug Bay are surrounded by natural beauty, but they can’t use it … That’s why this park makes so much sense to me.”

Avella, who pointed out that there is no NYC Park in Douglaston, said he would be reaching out to Mayor Bill de Blasio and NYC DPR Commissioner Mitchell Silver again to continue the push.

“Do the right thing by this community,” the state senator closed. “Just transfer the property and then let’s have a discussion about what should go there.”

A DPR spokesperson said that Assistant Commissioner of Planning & Parklands Alyssa Cobb Konon wrote to Avella in May 2014 and said that the project would require an estimated $2 million in funding.

“We will work with HPD to transfer the lot to the Department of Parks and Recreation to begin the design phase as soon as the funding is allocated,” Konon wrote.

“It is standard that we only accept acquisitions if funding is in place to develop the property,” the DPR spokesperson said.



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