A local park and memorial plaza in Woodside that is used as a gathering place for Memorial Day and other events is closer to getting a $1.5 million renovation.
Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer announced in June 2017 that he would allocate funds for a makeover of the 1.71-acre park, which is bounded by Woodside Avenue, 52nd Street and 39th Road. It includes a memorial statue and plaza dedicated to those who served, including 34 people who lived or worked in Woodside who lost their lives in the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
The statue depicts a World War I-era infantryman or “doughboy.” British soldiers referred to American infantrymen as as “doughboys” because of the large round buttons on their uniforms. The buttons reminded the British soldiers of the cakes or biscuits known as doughboys. Statues of American infantry soldiers are also called doughboys, and there are bronze doughboys in all five boroughs.
The park was officially dedicated in 1923 and has been through several renovations. A restoration of the statue occurred in 1990, and the plaza saw new benches, fences and greenery in 2001.
Representatives from the Parks Department presented the plans for the new park to Community Board 2 on Feb. 1. After a scoping meeting in September 2017, the agency worked to incorporate the community’s suggestions into the plan. Community Board 2 approved the design at their meeting in Sunnyside.
The Parks Department will replace the broken blue stone pavement, replace the lime green wall in the park with matching bluestone material, enhance the planting in the park, add a contemplative garden with a fountain, add additional seating, extend the plaza, and change the lighting.
Community members requested that the lamps around the memorial be reduced to better light it. Additional lights will also be added around the statue. On the fifth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, a memorial plaque was dedicated to 34 people from the neighborhood who lost their lives. The Parks Department will remove the plaque to clean it and then reinstall it.
“Doughboy Park is a sacred place in the heart of Woodside to honor the sacrifice of our brave service men and women who fought on the front lines of war to protect our freedom,” Van Bramer said at a press conference last year. “As we approach the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I next November, we must honor our duty and responsibility to maintain the dignity of this sacred ground. This is a victory for our veterans and for all who will enjoy the added beauty and amenities of this great park right here in Woodside.”
According to Parks Department spokesperson Meghan Lalor, the design is still under review. The project is expected to be completed by 2020.