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Photo by Robert Stridiron
Photo by Robert Stridiron
Signs posted at Strack Pond where Glendale native Anthony Perez died trying to save his friend on Feb. 6.

Glendale native Anthony Perez, 11, was mourned nationwide after his story of heroism in saving his friend from the icy waters of Strack Pond in Forest Park was reported. Now, local civic leaders want to make sure tragedy doesn’t strike there again.

During the March 14 meeting for Community Board 5 at Christ the King High School in Middle Village, Parks and Recreation Services Committee chairman Steven Fiedler said that the Board plans to write a letter to the Parks Department to advocate for a fence to be built around the pond.

“There should at least be a four- to six-foot fence around that puddle of water now that there’s been a tragedy,” Fielder told the board. “I don’t think you could have avoided it unless you had something around it. Kids will climb the fence, but at least there will be something there protecting them.”

Fiedler also explained that Strack Pond has formed naturally as the low point of that section of the park. It was once a lake to begin with, Fiedler said, but it was drained and the land was turned into baseball fields. When the fields flooded all the time, they were removed and the lake formed again as stormwater ran down from the Forest Park Carousel, tennis courts and Fire Department Telegraph Station.

Board 5 district manager Gary Giordano said that the letter has not been drafted yet, but he expects that funding for the fence will be a challenge.

“Its going to become a money issue,” Giordano said. “I might have to be reaching out to elected officials for the funding of that.”

Also at the Board 5 meeting, Fiedler reported that the Board is advocating for a safety-related change to the plans to revitalize the Glendale entrance of Forest Park. Fiedler said that the Parks Department came to the Parks and Recreation Services Committee’s March meeting to present the plan again, and the committee peppered them with questions.

The biggest safety concern is a 20-foot section where separate bicycle and walking paths converge into one narrow path. Fiedler and Giordano met at the location with Parks Department officials to show them the problem area.

After the meeting, Fiedler and Giordano both explained to QNS that a hill leading down to the merged section of bicyclists and walkers could make the section dangerous if bicyclists are picking up speed on the downhill slope.

“If you start that run down the hill, you’re doing an easy 20 to 25 miles per hour,” Fiedler said. “That’s all right when there’s single lanes, but when the lanes are combined it’s dangerous.”

Both Fiedler and Giordano said the biggest obstacle will be convincing the Parks Department to remove a couple of trees in order to make the section of the path wider. The board will be writing an official letter with their requests to the Parks Department in which it will request a wooden divider be built to prevent the bicyclists from crossing over into the walking lane, Fiedler said.

According to the NYC Parks website, the Glendale entrance construction project is 35 percent of the way through the design phase, which is projected to be completed in April. The total funding for the project is approximately $3 million, Fiedler said.

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