Community seeks role in Flushing Meadows park board

By Madina Toure

The organizers behind a project seeking to improve access, circulation and connectivity in Flushing Meadows Corona Park hope to have their ideas heard as well as get community advisers involved in the new board and alliance formed by the city in January.

In 2014, nonprofit Design Trust for Public Space, the Queens Museum and the city Parks Department kicked off a proposal aiming to improve wayfinding and connectivity in the park.

The first semester of a community design school, part of the proposal that helps 23 community advisers learn about the park’s history and design, took place from December 2014 through April.

In November, Mayor Bill de Blasio, City Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras (D-East Elmhurst) and Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver launched the Flushing Meadows Corona Park Alliance.

The alliance also has an independent Community Advisory Board, made up of community members from Queens.

Jose Serrano-McClain, a community organizer for the Queens Museum, said they hope the community advisory board becomes part of the planning of the community design school’s next semester.

“The goal was always to make these three things, the people, the process and proposals that came out of the community design school to kind of be inherited by the alliance and its community advisory board,” Serrano-McClain said.

The structure of the board and the community design school will be discussed at the board’s January meeting.

“As the alliance and community advisory board come together, we are present, we are there,” Serrano-McClain said.

In March, several proposals came out of a community forum. An exhibition was held April 12 featuring the ideas.

One of the proposals is the “Sensory Space Playground for All Children,” a play area targeting the five senses in the park’s underused open spaces and buildings.

The proposal turned into a series of events for children over the summer, highlighting the park’s assets and engaging community members on the potential future of the playground and bringing together people from the community design school, the New York Hall of Science and INCLUDEnyc, an organization that empowers young people with disabilities as well as their families.

“We got to the point of building actually a relationship with architects that specialize in designing spaces for children with disabilities and have held a number of events,” he said.

Other proposals are “The Green Thing,” a collection of directional arrows covered with plant life leading people into the park; “Art-trances,” art installations marking the entrances; multilingual welcome maps; a creative signage system pairing existing place names with bold symbols; and a multilingual GPS-based smartphone application.

Reach reporter Madina Toure by e-mail at mtoure@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4566.

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