By Bob Harris
As required, Community Board 8 representatives met with Queens officials from the city Parks Department in the overlook in Forest Park Sept. 27. There was an update on previously submitted agenda items and a report on other items concerning CB 8.
Among the capital expense projects discussed but not guaranteed were re-landscaping Hoover/Manton Playground slopes facing Queens Boulevard and Main Street, refurbishing landscaping at Haym Solomon Triangle and building an environmental center in a natural area of Flushing Meadows Corona Park and additional bathrooms near ballfields in the southern section of Flushing Meadows.
Activities in Cunningham Park were discussed. There is a seven-week program that includes trips, games, crafts and more in the recreation center for younger children. Free tennis lessons are provided to children ages 5 to 16 with advanced instruction and special clinics. A few courts will be marked off for children 10 years and under. Free senior programs are also offered in tennis, yoga and fitness walking. An environmental stewardship youth leadership program for up to 15 teens, from 13 to 17 years old, is being set up for the teens to help in the recreation center and remove litter.
Using mayoral, City Council and borough president money, natural turf ball Fields 2, 3 and 4 are being reconstructed in Cunningham Park. A construction fence has been placed around the work area and will be removed when work is completed in summer 2013.
Flushing Meadows is having synthetic turf Fields 2, 3 and 5 reconstructed. Expect completion in summer 2013. Bidding for the construction of volleyball courts has been put out.
Past work in CB 8 includes construction of the new Cunningham Park dog run off 193rd Street and the reconstructed six handball courts in Joe Austin Park. Work is being done to plant trees and bushes to better screen the dog run from the street.
Current work in CB 8 includes reconstructing the perimeter fencing on five tennis courts and reconstructing the playground and safety surface, tree pruning and installing custom spray showers in McLaughlin Playground.
New work for fiscal year 2013 for CB 8 includes using mayoral money to reconstruct the Oval Walking Path, at Union Turnpike and 193rd Street in Cunningham Park, and using a state grant to paint a fence, install gates, reconstruct stairs and replace bench slats in Freedom Square.
Projects which have been funded for fiscal year 2013 are realigning the roadway and paths in the northeast section of Meadow Lake, upgrading the spray shower area and installing new benches to complete the last portion of the playground of Utopia Playground. The McNeil Park seawall will have the promenade reconstructed and the fencing fixed. Design has not yet begun on these projects.
The Parks Department has a no replacement policy — it will not replace anyone who retires, although it can move workers from one park to another. City Hall is now proposing a 3 percent cut in city agencies for 2013.
You add up the figures and see what will happen. This has been going on for several years now during the recession. While all these cuts are taking place, City Hall is still funding multimillion-dollar, high-tech programs which often do not work and which sometimes rip off the city by stealing some of the money because the people doing the work are crooks.
The city also hires contractors from out of state, so our money goes elsewhere. Then the city hires high-priced consultants instead of using the supervisors we have on payroll. This is another reason why we are short of money in the city.