By Bill Parry
The jewel of Astoria is about to be polished.
Astoria Park, the 105-year old, 56-acre oasis along the East River, is on the verge of a $30 million investment from the city.
Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen joined elected officials, community leaders and city parks officials to break ground on the first phase of the project, which will include a synthetic turf soccer field and track, site amenities and much needed erosion control. Work is expected to be completed in Spring 2020.
A second phase which includes the reconstruction of Charybdis Playground with a spray shower and comfort stations is slated for completion in Summer 2020.
“After years of hard work, community input, and collaboration, I’m thrilled we are able to break ground on Phase One of the new Astoria Park,” City Councilman Costa Constantinides (D-Astoria) said. “This soccer field and track is over eight years in the making, and reflects a broader investment in making this park not only more accessible, but sustainable to meet the demands of the 21st Century. I am thankful Astoria Park was selected as just one of five anchor parks, giving it the proper attention this green space deserves.”
Launched by Mayor Bill de Blasio in August, 2016, the anchor parks initiative committed a total of $150 million to make major improvements at a large park in each of the five boroughs.
Each was selected based on historical underinvestment, high surrounding population and potential for park development. More than 750,000 New Yorkers live within walking distance of the five parks that were selected, according to City Hall.
“These parks are neighborhood anchors — green spaces that serve as focal points for communities, Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver said. “When we announced the Anchor Parks initiative, we got overwhelming reaction from community members who gave us their input on how to use $30 million to make these old parks new again.”
The other anchor parks include Highbridge Park in Manhattan, St. Mary’s Park in the Bronx, Betsy Head Park in Brooklyn and Freshkills Park in Staten Island. Construction is expected to get underway in Astoria Park in the next few months, according to Silver.
“The start of construction on major improvements to Astoria park is a milestone for park equity not only in Queens, but for all of New York City,” Glen said. “With an Anchor Park in each borough, these investments fund renovations and new resources in long-overlooked parks serving a total of more than 750,000 New Yorkers.”
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr