By Bill Parry
Growing up in Corona, City Councilman Francisco Moya (D-Jackson Heights) made frequent visits to William F. Moore Park, a small triangular public space on the corner of 108th Street and 51st Avenue. The park is named for a Marine who grew up on the corner of 103rd Street and Corona Avenue and was the first young man from the neighborhood to die while fighting in World War I one hundred years ago.
“As a lifelong Corona resident, I’ve witnessed my neighbors make memories in William F. Moore Park, relax on the benches with Italian ices from the Lemon Ice King of Corona and play round after round on the bocce ball court,” Moya said. “But I’ve also watched as it’s weathered and aged. The park’s current condition does a disservice to its namesake and deserves to be renovated so that the sacrifices of Private Moore and the Lost Generation are not forgotten and so that visitors may continue to enjoy the space for years to come.”
Next month, members of the community, the Queens Borough President’s Office and the city Parks Department will team up to spruce up the park.
“Borough President Katz is pleased to partner with NYC Parks and Community Board 4 on the June 2 cleanup,” Katz spokeswoman Sharon Lee said. “The scheduled cleanup is to help prepare the park for the June 7 commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the death of William F. Moore, a brave Marine private from Corona who was killed in action in June 1918 during the battle of Belleau Wood in World War I.”
Christian Cassagnol, CB4’s district manager, was first approached with the idea by Vincent Tomeo, a historian and poet from Flushing who had researched Moore’s story.
“Vincent called two months ago and let us know the anniversary was coming up and we jumped on that,” Cassagnol said. “At the same time the borough president reached out for a candidate for her clean parks program. We figured we would do the cleanup one week before we do the commemoration.”
He said teams from CB4 regularly volunteer to clean up area parks, but support from NYC Parks brings extra resources and Cassagnol is “pushing Parks to do a little extra, like paint the flagpole and fence, put in some new shrubbery, repair the lights and refurbish the bocce courts.”
Queens Parks Commissioner Dorothy Lewandowski understands why fixing the park was so important to Tomeo.
“New Yorkers have an emotional connection to their parks, and so it is fitting for us to build spaces where we can come to remember our nation’s heroes,” Lewandowski said. “Queens Parks are home to more than 50 memorials honoring our nation’s veterans, and this fall we look forward to breaking ground on the borough’s first Vietnam Veterans memorial in Elmhurst Park. We are thrilled to have the support of Borough President Katz and local volunteers to help spruce up William F. Moore Park for the spring season, and we look forward to joining them to honor Moore in June.”
State Sen. Jose Peralta (D-East Elmhurst) said parks are precious public spaces for the community.
“It is vital that we keep them clean and in the best conditions possible,” he said. “A park in good condition is a symbol of a healthy community. I applaud the local efforts requesting improvements in Corona’s William F. Moore, known in the community as ‘Spaghetti Park.’ This will be a great opportunity to discover William Moore, a U.S. Marine who grew up in Corona, just a few blocks from the park, and was killed in France during World War I.”
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr