Jackson Heights residents will be enjoying a new and improved version of Travers Park by the end of 2019, as several city and state officials gathered for the park’s symbolic groundbreaking ceremony on Friday, April 20.
Queens Parks Commissioner Dorothy Lewandowski, Queens Borough President Melinda Katz and Councilman Daniel Dromm were among those in attendance for the start of the highly anticipated park reconstruction.
“The long-awaited renovation of Travers Park has finally begun,” Dromm said. “We, as a community, fought so hard to make this renovation a reality and now it’s actually happening. Jackson Heights is a thriving and growing community which treasures its parks.”
Designs for the project began in March 2014 and were complete in November 2016. The plans involve combining the current Travers Park with the 78th Street Pedestrian Plaza and Staunton Park, creating a new opened space as part of the “Parks Without Borders” initiative.
The $50 million initiative was funded by Mayor Bill de Blasio in order to make parks more accessible, improve neighborhoods and create vibrant public spaces, according to NYC Parks Department website. Other parks that have benefited from this initiate include Van Cortland Park in the Bronx, Prospect Park in Brooklyn and Jackie Robinson Park in Manhattan.
In total, the reconstruction will cost about $7.1 million through funds allocated by de Blasio, Dromm and Katz. The borough president is also kicking in another $2 million toward the Travers Park tot lot, a related project part of a separate contract.
“The best of our city’s parks integrate with the adjacent communities, without boundaries, flowing from park to street to neighborhood, just as pedestrians do,” said NYC Department of Transportation Queens Deputy Borough Commissioner Albert Silvestri, who was also in attendance on Friday. “The new Travers Park will be a more open and welcoming space for everyone, providing space for play, sports and relaxation.”
To ensure that the park lands are constantly utilized, the project will be completed and opened to the public in phases. Some of the new features to be built include a performance arts center with stadium seating, a multi-purpose asphalt field and a great lawn complete with flowering trees, benches and game tables.
Travers Park was founded in 1948 in Jackson Heights. The park got its name from neighborhood leader Thomas J. Travers, who devoted much of his time to serving in community and religious groups within the neighborhood. The Manhattan native moved to Jackson Heights when he returned from the Navy during World War I. When Travers died in 1958, the community board chose to name the park in his memory.
The reconstruction project, which started officially in March 2018, is slated to be finished by fall 2019.
“Public parks are safe havens for our children, families, neighbors and visitors. Particularly in Jackson Heights, Travers Park is one of the few open public spaces we have available for the community to enjoy their free time, play sports or simply hang out with friends,” state Senator Jose Peralta said.