By Phil Corso
The Doug Bay Manor Civic Association gathered last Thursday to discuss several issues, including turning a nearby piece of land into a park, making the local Long Island Rail Road station more accessible and preserving the community’s character.
The group, which serves mostly residents living near the Douglaston LIRR station, continued to explore possibly converting an area at the corner of 39th Avenue and 234th Street into a park. The civic association has been working to convert the land for close to eight years, President Tom Pinto said, and has received some support from the Douglaston Local Development Corp.
Architect Victor Dadras said he was helping to push the project forward from two distinct roles.
“As a community member, I am involved with the area LDC on revitalization plans and trying to coordinate what the community would like to do,” Dadras said. “And as an architect, I am trying to lend my expertise to the community and help them represent their vision.”
According to Pinto, the site in question has seen several different plans come and go, including a building and a parking lot.
But what the civic agrees would be best for Douglaston, Pinto said, includes a new park with a path and benches.
“There is nowhere for us to get together and socialize outside,” said Ann Jawin, chairwoman and founder of the Doug Bay Manor Civic Association.
Pinto said the group will continue working with the LDC and city Parks Department to consider converting the land.
In recapping a meeting held earlier this month with LIRR representatives, Jawin renewed her arguments that the Douglaston train station should extend the operating hours of its station house and also become handicap accessible. The station currently has no means for riders in wheelchairs to easily travel from one side of the tracks to the other, Jawin said.
“It is awful for people to go to a railroad and have to wait outside,” Jawin said. “It can get very scary.”
State Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) sat in on the meeting and said he would also contact the LIRR to examine the issue.
Pinto said the civic association was working with the LDC to propose that the Douglaston community operate the station house currently run by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority for extended hours so riders have a place to go to escape hazardous weather or late-night hours in the dark.
One of the group’s largest problems, Pinto said, is the pricey task of landscaping close to a nearby schoolyard along 234th Street to keep mosquitoes away and the area clean. The civic association charges each of its nearly 15 members $75 a year to help pay for the servicing.
The Doug Bay Manor civic currently raises its own money to fund the landscaping of the area to cut weeds and eliminate standing water. Pinto said Parks used to cut the grass, but stopped due to budgetary reasons.
“You can’t walk down the street,” Pinto said. “The sidewalk becomes impassible if you don’t keep cutting the weeds. Douglaston is better than that.”
Reach reporter Phil Corso by e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at 718-260-4573.