Whitestone community group wants park on vacant sites

Whitestone site
Photo courtesy of Christopher Bride/PropertyShark

What Whitestone wants is more green.

We Love Whitestone, a new civic organization that has been gaining popularity, is going on the offensive against possible overdevelopment of two massive vacant Whitestone sites, and hopes to convince city politicians of a plan to buy one and turn it into a park with ball fields.

The group recently voted to oppose any plans of development on the sites that don’t suit the area’s current zoning for smaller residential houses. It also began a petition on Change.org, which will be sent to elected officials, to have the city purchase a six-acre site near 150th Street and Fifth Avenue and transform it into a park. The petition is quickly approaching its goal of 500 signatures.

“It wasn’t dumped on or anything,” said Alfredo Centola, a founder of We Love Whitestone. “So have the city buy it back and turn it into something like Padavan-Preller Fields with on-site parking, a soccer field and an actual [full-size] baseball diamond.”

We Love Whitestone, which came to the resolution against overdevelopment during its March monthly meeting, has been quickly gaining support as a civic organization since its inception about five months ago.

Despite the group’s short history, it has already attracted approximately 500 residents on Facebook, has an email list of more than 1,000 people, and has about 150 paying members. An average of nearly 100 Whitestone residents have been attending regular monthly meetings as well.

The six-acre site that We Love Whitestone wants to see transformed was once owned by the Catholic Charities, Diocese of Brooklyn, which used the site for various Catholic Youth Organization activities, according to the community group.

Whitestone Jewels LLC purchased the site in question in 2006 for $23.3 million, but the firm couldn’t keep up with the mortgage and it has been in foreclosure since 2007.

The site is up for auction on April 10.

State Sen. Tony Avella already expressed his opposition against overdevelopment or rezoning of the site by potential buyers as well.