Queens councilman calls for city to use borough’s public golf courses as pedestrian social distancing space

Photo courtesy of Costa Constantinides’ office

Councilman Costa Constantinides is calling on the city to open Queens’ public golf courses to the public, saying it would provide more pedestrian space for residents to keep a safe distance from one another while getting fresh air.

“Golf courses throughout Queens are sitting dormant right now, which only deprives people of vast open space,” said Constantinides. “Instead of targeting black and brown communities through this crisis, the city should be focused on creative ways to unlock open space for people to safely get fresh air. It’s on us to find those solutions so our 2.3 million residents remain healthy, and the curve flattens, as the weather gets nicer.”

Queens is tied with the Bronx for having the most public golf courses in New York City, which are controlled by the Department of Parks and Recreation. They include Clearview Park Golf Course, Douglaston Golf Course, Forest Park Golf Course and Kissena Golf Course.

Constantinides, a progressive and environment-centered candidate for Queens borough president, argued that the four courses should be opened as pedestrian green space. His call comes a few days after the city announced it may be limiting the number of people at some NYC parks.

All public golf courses are closed until further notice due to the COVID-19 pandemic — but Constantinides believes opening them will provide Queens residents with extra open space so they can keep six feet away from others while getting fresh air.

However, the Astoria native still urged Queens residents, at the epicenter of the health crisis, to stay home as much as possible, cover their faces when they’re not practicing social distancing, and remain vigilant.

The NYC Parks Department clarified that the city does have the authority to open up the public golf courses to the general public, but didn’t specify whether there are maintenance or liability concerns.

“While we have not received the Council Member’s proposal, it sounds interesting and will review,” a Parks  department spokesperson said. “As golf begins to return around the State and Country, we are planning to reopen courses when appropriate to provide active recreation in a safe and socially distant manner.”

Note: The article was updated on Wednesday, May 13, at 12:30 p.m. to include a comment from the Parks Department.