By Bill Parry
City Councilman Costa Constantinides (D-Astoria) hosted a Waterfront Festival in conjunction with the Waterfront Alliance at Hallets Cove Playground Saturday.
The free festival featured activities for children, including a touch tank that encourages hands-on interaction with marine life, sand art, an inflatable castle and a beach cleanup that gathered more than 20 pounds of trash.
Constantinides also gave an educational presentation about his vision for a revitalized waterfront at Hallets Cove, including the esplanade of the Astoria Houses.
“Our waterfront is our next frontier and we must use this resource to its fullest extent,” Constantinides said. “As the leaders of tomorrow, children must learn these lessons today. I was proud to impart lessons about the water’s resources and sustainability to families and children in our community.”
Constantinides’ plan includes allocating funding to projects along Hallets Peninsula, including an Eco-Dock in the near future. With an estimated cost of $4 million, Constantinides and Borough President Melinda Katz each allocated $1 million apiece for this fiscal year for the Eco-Dock, with Katz committing to continued support the following year.
The Eco-Dock would provide waterfront access and education directly to residents of the Astoria waterfront, a community that has been cut off from the water for decades by dilapidated piers and broken bulkheads. The Eco-Dock would also provide the opportunity for environmental and marine programming for students as well as a kayak launch for the community.
The project includes a street-level structure with shaded seating, open space, greenery and boat space. The city Economic Development Corp. is currently doing an engineering study and planning the logistics for the Eco-Dock.
Play areas along the waterfront will also be upgraded with $1 million from Katz and $210,000 from Constantinides’ discretionary budget. He allocated an additional $350,000 to upgrade the Astoria Houses basketball courts.
Revitalizing Astoria’s waterfront will include improved transportation access to Hallets Peninsula with ferry service linking Astoria with Long Island City, Manhattan and Roosevelt Island in 2017.
“We are at a turning point for our community,” Constantinides said. “Utilizing our waterfront for ferry service will transform the neighborhood and help change the transportation paradigm for those who live close to the dock. I also look forward to the Eco-Dock, which will help educate children in our area and further transform Hallets Peninusula.”
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr