Mafera Park gets $500,000 in state funding to kickstart renovations

New Yorkers for Parks donated over 1,000 daffodil bulbs as part of their effort to remember the victims of 9/11 in Mafera Park. (Photo courtesy of Linda Byszynski)

After residents volunteered to clean up Mafera Park this past Saturday, elected officials announced that $500,000 in state funds would be allocated to the local park for needed renovations.

Around 30 people helped plant daffodil bulbs and clean up trash in the local park located at 65th Place and Shaler Avenue. The nonprofit New Yorkers for Parks donated 1,200 bulbs as part of its Daffodil Project to remember the victims of 9/11.

Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi also helped the cleanup along with the NYC Parks Department, which donated gardening supplies. 

The cleanup effort was organized by the community group Friends of Mafera Park, which has been ardently advocating for funding to renovate the park.

“Mafera Park has the potential to be one of the premier parks in New York City,” Hevesi said. “It has not received the attention it deserves, but the partnership between the Parks Department, Friends of Mafera Park, our colleagues in government and our neighbors is a great start.”

Friends of Mafera Park was created in 2016 to get funding for necessary renovations like a new turf field, playground equipment and a dog park. Recently, the group has been receiving attention from elected officials like Hevesi, Councilman Robert Holden and state Senator Joseph Addabbo.

Residents plant daffodil bulbs around Mafera Park. (Photo courtesy of Assembylman Hevesi’s office)

“It is great to see a community playground receive the resources necessary to keep it a safe and fun-filled place for residents of all ages to gather,” Addabbo said. “Mafera Park was in need of restorations, and because the residents spoke out and were heard by their local electeds, $500,000 in state funding to reconstruct the park for the betterment of the entire community has been allocated. I look forward to when the renovations get underway and we can give the community a brand new park to visit.”

Hevesi said that now the local elected officials will work with residents and the Parks Department to decide how to spend the funding.

Linda Byszynski, the leader of Friends of Mafera, said that this funding was a long time coming for the park and for her neighborhood. 

“What has really been wonderful about it is having this grow and bloom. More and more local residents are coming out and showing support,” Byszynski said. “I’m glad that the process is starting to secure funding.”

Byszynski said that the group is also considering hosting concerts in the 5.4-acre park. The park has baseball fields, playgrounds, basketball courts, roller hockey and handball courts.

Hevesi said he will look to prioritize the fields as renovations are planned. 

“We will work with Friends of Mafera and our neighbors to make decisions about the renovations, but we know the turf field must be resurfaced, which is a significant problem because local schools cannot use the location for sports events at the moment and the playground is also outdated,” Hevesi said.

Holden met with Friends of Mafera Park in June when he said he would help secure funds for renovations.

“Our parks are vital to our city and I’m happy to hear that my state colleagues are contributing funds to Mafera Park,” Holden said. “I will continue to work with the NYC Parks Department to help give this park the facelift it deserves.”