The Civic Scene: Queens civic associations maintain welfare of parks

By Bob Harris

Parks are green places where residents can walk, relax, play sports, picnic with friends or family or watch different types of cultural events. Civic associations support Queens parks.

The Kew Gardens Hills Civic Association is adjacent to Flushing Meadows Corona Park and works hard to maintain it. The civic’s leaders have created the Flushing Meadows-Corona Conservancy with the assistance of Queens Civic Congress leaders and local legislators.

The park has the New York Hall of Science, the Queens Museum of Art, the Queens Zoo, the Queens Theatre in the Park, the Queens Botanical Garden, the USTA National Tennis Center, Citi Field, the Al Oerter Recreational Center, the WorldSwim Center, Meadow Lake, a new skateboard plaza, Willow Lake and many playgrounds and ball fields.

Recently, there was a formal dedication of decorated gates which permit people to enter onto the Willow Lake trail. The Queens Parks Department, local legislators and the conservancy obtained money for the gates and area renovation. One gate is at the Mauro Playground at Park Drive East and 73rd Terrace. Park Rangers will have walks Oct. 24 to see the fall bird migration and Dec. 19 to see ducks and geese winter on the lake. The conservancy will be building a bird blind near the lake. For more information, call 718-263-1760.

The Holly Civic Association is adjacent to the Kissena Park Corridor, a green strip under the approach ways for planes landing in LaGuardia Airport. The Holly Civic holds joint meetings with the Kissena conservancy, as they work to make the park a better place. They take part in It’s My Park! days.

The Kissena Park Civic Association is an active civic concerned with its park and zoning issues of concern to residents. The park has a lake and many fields, playgrounds and walking paths. To maintain the quality of park, it has formed the Friends of Kissena Park.

The West Cunningham Park Civic Association is along the western border of Cunningham Park in Fresh Meadows. Due to its proximity, the civic members are concerned about events in the park, which is busy. It often invites Park Manager Gabe Echevarria, Queens Parks Commissioner Dorothy Lewandowski and Captain of the Parks Enforcement Patrol David Calderon to its joint membership meetings with the Civic Association of Utopia Estates to discuss and try to solve issues. Some issues have been noisy gatherings, which sometimes become unauthorized nighttime parties.

Working with the Parks Department, some areas along 193rd Street have been designated “Quiet Zones” due to the work of WCPCA 1st Vice President Elaine Young. Cunningham Park is noted for the presentation of a summer New York Philharmonic concert, which resumed this year after having been canceled two years ago due to budget problems.

Baseball, soccer, tennis, walking, festivals, barbecues, cross-country skiing and cricket are some of the activities in the park. Queens high schools hold their cross-country races here. Some problems the West Cunningham Park civic has been concerned about are people throwing hot coals next to trees, groups holding parties next to the fences across the street from homes and criminals stealing pocketbooks from the trunks of cars parked in the parking lots. The Parks Enforcement 24-hour communications number is 646-613-1200.

GOOD AND BAD NEWS OF THE WEEK: In 1989, the 50-acre Ridgewood Reservoir, built in 1848, was deactivated. Nature took over and created a wild preserve of three basins with trees, mosses and wetland plants on the border of Queens and Brooklyn. Local conservation groups and residents want the area left wild as a designated wetland with paths for people, upgraded lighting and fences to protect the area.

Some people want some of the wild area cut down and made into playing fields. Other people want money made available to renovate the current playing fields in nearby Highland Park without destroying the wild area. Some people want to cut down “invasive trees” and restore native trees. This could cost millions of dollars. Some believe too much money is being wasted on fancy designs.

Parks wants to build a fence around the area and start fixing paths and deteriorated lighting, but some people say the high bushes around the edges make a fence unnecessary while others want a 6-foot-high fence. Parks raised concerns when it said it will have to cut down trees to fix up the area. The state Department of Environmental Conservation is considering designating the area a wetland.

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