By Bill Parry
The extreme makeover of Queensbridge Park took another step forward last week with the ground-breaking for a new $6.25 million Park House that will replace an old dilapidated structure that stood unused for decades.
Demolition of the original facility, built in 1941, began in the morning of March 29 and City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) joined community leaders and city Parks officials for the ceremony at the 20-acre park. It runs along the waterfront beneath the Queensboro Bridge and directly across Vernon Boulevard from Queensbridge Houses, the nation’s largest public housing development..
“This new Park House will bring new amenities to all who use Queensbridge Park,” Van Bramer said. “Ensuring that this park has all the features and amenities needed to serve the seniors, families and children of Queensbridge and Western Queens has always been a priority for me. I have been working to bring improvements to this park since taking office and am proud to have secured funding for this Park House project.”
Since he took office, Van Bramer has secured in excess of $6 million for Queensbridge Park, which included $3.4 million to fix the once-crumbling seawall along with a 6-foot-wide promenade along the East River with benches, plantings and a small wharf. That area was later named in honor of longtime park advocate Elizabeth McQueen.
The new 1,500-square-foot field house will include a community room and office area for Parks staff, a public restroom, and storage space for athletic teams which compete on nearby baseball, football and soccer fields. It will be surrounded by an outdoor plaza area complete with seating, bicycle racks and drinking fountains. The building’s design includes: efficient plumbing fixtures to reduce water use; an energy-efficient heating and cooling system; energy-efficient lighting; increased ventilation; and light- colored paving to reduce the heat island effect.
Van Bramer allocated $2.5 millions in City Council funding with an additional $3.75 million from Mayor Bill de Blasio. The design was unveiled at a community event in 2017 and the facility is expected to be reopened in summer 2019.
“Queensbridge is a picturesque park with astounding views of the skyline, and an active community who loves and cares for it,” Queens Parks Commissioner Dorothy Lewandowski said. “The new field house we are building will provide storage and office space for Parks staff, an indoor space for community programming, and — best of all — it will finally bring a bathroom facility to the southern end of the park.”
The only other comfort station in the park is on the north side of the site, at Vernon Boulevard and 41st Street.
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr