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City, School Finalize Deal to Expand Jack. Hts. Pk.

Field’s Addition Will Double Greenspace

A deal has been reached to preserve an athletic field adjacent to Travers Park in Jackson Heights, which City Council Member Daniel Dromm noted is the last remaining open space in a community that has one of the worst ratios of persons to park space acreage in the city.

Deputy Mayor Howard Wolfson, Queens Borough President Helen Marshall, City Council Member Daniel Dromm and Garden School Headmaster Richard Marotta announced a deal last Thursday, Mar. 22, for the city to purchase the Jackson Heights school’s athletic field in order to expand the adjacent Travers Park.

Seizing a once in a lifetime opportunity to bring more parkland to the area, Dromm said, city officials quickly began negotiations with the Garden School as soon as their athletic field was put up for sale over a year ago. He stated that the agreement reached with the city is a winwin for Jackson Heights and the Garden School, who negotiated in good faith to ensure that the lot remained an open space for the area.

At 25,000 square feet, the Garden School athletic field is an addition to neighboring Travers Park. The lot was purchased for $6 million, of which $4 million was secured by Dromm. The Mayor’s office and the Queens Borough President’s office contributed $1 million each.

“This is a great deal for both the residents of Jackson Heights and the Garden School,” said Deputy Mayor Howard Wolfson. “All sides worked together to ensure that this land will be preserved as open space that both neighborhood residents and the school can use. This is an outstanding example of how government and the community can collaborate to achieve the best possible result.”

“Every New Yorker should have access to adequate parks and recreational opportunities and Jackson Heights was in dire need of additional park space,” said Dromm. “The opportunity to preserve this open space and expand Travers Park was simply too great to pass up. I commend Deputy Mayor Wolfson, the Garden School board members and Borough President [Helen] Marshall for their commitment to the Jackson Heights community and their extraordinary effort in making this deal come to fruition. The residents of our neighborhood deserve this.”

“This was a wonderful collaboration between the city, community members and our private school,” said Garden School Headmaster Dr. Richard Marotta. “Everyone wins with this arrangement and it is a perfect example of what can happen when the public and private sectors work together.”

“When Councilman Dromm approached me with this proposal I immediately saw the benefit and was happy to provide $1 million in capital funding to help make this project become a reality,” said Marshall. “This deal will benefit both the Garden School and the public and provide much-needed open space in this community.”

“Today, we’ve set in motion the acquisition of an important addition to the adjacent Travers Park and a vital piece of recreational space.” said City Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe. “Jackson Heights needs additional open space, and I want to thank the neighborhood park advocates, local elected and community officials, the Garden School, Mayor [Michael] Bloomberg and our colleagues in City Hall who all worked together to move the process forward.”

“Getting the whole community involved is what made this park expansion a reality. Thousands of Jackson Heights residents banded together to encourage the Garden School to sell this land to the city,” said Will Sweeney of the Jackson Heights Green Alliance. “We are ecstatic to be getting more parkland in our neighborhood. This cherished space will be enjoyed by generations of Jackson Heights residents and families to come.”

The environmental consulting firm AKRF provided pro bono services that will help expedite the Uniform Land Use Review Process (ULURP) at a cost savings to the city. The ULURP process is required when the city acquires private land.

Dromm and community advocates, with the approval of Community Board 3, have already secured permission to permanently close the adjacent 78th Street.

When combined with the purchase of the Garden School lot, the existing parkland will almost double in size.

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