By Mark Hallum
With Queens Parks Commissioner Dorothy Lewandowski stepping down from the city agency at the end of the year, the Juniper Park Civic Association showed its gratitude for her years of service by presenting her with its Community Service Award at the group’s Dec. 13 meeting in Middle Village.
Lewandowski, a Middle Village resident, has been with the Parks Department since 1979, starting with a summer job; she has served as the Queens borough commissioner since 2004.
“As I went around the borough over 14 years, I’ve needed a lot of civic association groups. I’ve lived in Middle Village and everyone would say, ‘Why do the parks in Juniper Valley look so much better than my neighborhood?’ And I would say it’s not because I live there, it’s because there are community organizations and volunteers who help take care of it,” Lewandowski said.
Some of Lewandowski’s accomplishments include the creation of Elmhurst Park on the former site of the Elmhurst Gas Tanks between 2007 and 2011 as well as the restoration of the Rockaway Beach Boardwalk following the destruction of Hurricane Sandy.
Lewandowski and other city leaders recently broke ground on a Vietnam veterans’ memorial in Elmhurst Park, dedicated to the 370 men and women killed in one of the United States’ most controversial conflicts.
It will include the names of people involved in the war who died or are suffering from illness related to their service in Vietnam.
In April, Parks began work on a $6 million rebuild of Queensbridge Park. Lewandowski is also credited with working alongside civic groups to rehabilitate and protect the Ridgewood Reservoir.
“Dotty will be leaving our parks looking better than ever thanks to her decades of hard work and dedication,” JPCA President Tony Nunziato said.
Joanne Amagrande, also a Middle Village resident, will serve as borough commissioner in the interim until a replacement for Lewandowski is appointed after she leaves office on Dec. 31.
Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhall