The Oval becomes official

The Oval becomes official
By Howard Koplowitz

As the onetime owner of the Glen Oaks Village development before it was a co−op, Jerry Tenney’s name graced the nameplate of the neighborhood’s oval−shaped park near 260th Street and 73rd Avenue.

That is, until last week, when the city changed the park’s name to what Glen Oaks residents have been calling it: the Glen Oaks Oval.

“We call it the Oval. We refer to it as the Glen Oaks Oval. We want the name to be representative of the community and the name should recognize that,” Glen Oaks Village President Bob Friedrich said.

“I researched Jerry Tenney,” he said. “I found virtually nothing.”

According to a summary on the city Parks Department Web site, Tenney was a “dedicated community leader who played a major role in the development of the Glen Oaks Village apartment complex.”

Tenney and his wife, Shirley, bought the complex in 1958 and he “spent the bulk of his later life helping improve the garden apartment community.” The summary said Tenney supervised the development seven days a week.

Tenney died in 1977 at age 49.

But some Glen Oaks Village residents who have spent virtually their entire lives at the development said they never referred to the park as Tenney Park.

“I always knew it as the Oval. Even when I was in Little League, we called it the Oval,” said a 40−year−old Glen Oaks resident. “I didn’t even know it was called Tenney Park.”

Glen Oaks Village resident Diana Ostuni, who has lived in the complex for all but seven of her 48 years, also said she grew up calling the park “the Oval.”

“It was called the Oval when I was a kid and we still call it the Oval,” she said. “This park always should’ve been called the Glen Oaks Oval.”

“My question is: ‘Why was it Tenney Park?’” asked Ostuni’s brother, Richie Hovi, 47, who has lived at the development for 42 years.

At the renaming ceremony last week, Friedrich said the renaming was not meant as a slight to Tenney.

“Today, we take back our park,” he said. “Let me make it clear that this name change bears no disrespect to Jerry Tenney.”

Queens Parks Commissioner Dorothy Lewandowski said the agency does not take name changes lightly, but said it was appropriate after the Parks Department “did the history on this one.”

“This is a perfect village green and it’s an oval, so it made sense,” she said, calling the name “what it should’ve been called a long time ago.”

Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e−mail at hkoplowitz@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 173.