City makes $30M investment in Astoria Park

City makes $30M investment in Astoria Park
Photo by Bill Parry
By Bill Parry

Astoria Park was selected to receive $30 million in city funding as part of a new Anchor Parks initiative. One park in each borough is splitting a $150 million investment that will create or improve running tracks, hiking trails, soccer fields, bathrooms and watering stations. Each was selected based on historical underinvestment, high surrounding population and the potential for park development.

“The upgraded playgrounds, fields, and open areas will reinforce what we already know — Astoria Park has long been the jewel of the neighborhood,” City Councilman Costa Constantinides (D-Astoria) said. “Since its inception over 100 years ago, families from across the community have enjoyed this park throughout the year. With these large-scale capital improvements, Astoria Park will have assets and amenities to match its use.”

The Parks Department will commence community meetings this fall to determine which improvements to pursue in each park. The renovation will be spread out over three to four years.

“As a lifelong Astorian raising my own daughter in the neighborhood, I’m delighted that the park is getting the resources it deserves,” state Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas (D-Astoria) said. “This will make a huge difference, not only in the beauty of the park, but also its recreational opportunities.”

Borough President Melinda Katz said she was excited to hear about the investment in Astoria Park because of the growing population around it.

“I wish we could have gotten funding for all of our parks,” she said Monday at Hart Playground in Woodside, where she joined City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) and Queens Parks Commissioner Dorothy Lewandowski to announce a $2.7 million reconstruction project.

The playground, located at 37th Avenue and 65th Street, is on the last block in Van Bramer’s district.

“Woodside’s children and families deserve a modern, up-to-date park, and with these upgrades, that’s exactly what we will have,” Van Bramer said. “Our parks and public spaces are integral to the fabric of our communities. With this funding of almost $3 million, we are investing not just in Hart Playground, but in the Woodside community.”

The improvements will include a new surface, new play equipment, bathrooms, benches, and landscaping.

“It’s been 20 years since Hart Playground received an upgrade, and the children and families of Woodside deserve a neighborhood park with the latest, safest equipment and structures to play and enjoy,” Katz said. She noted that Hart Playground was named for Brigadier General Joseph Hart, an Elmhurst resident who served in the South Pacific during World War II and following the war he returned to the career he started in the Queens Borough President’s Office two decades earlier as executive manager.

Newly elected Community Board 2 Chairwoman Denise Keehan-Smith, who grew up nearby, said the $1.3 million Van Bramer contributed over the last several years and the $1.4 million from Katz showed the two have their hearts in the right place.

Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparry@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4538.