Taking a break from his whirlwind farewell tour of western Queens community organizations and cultural institutions, outgoing Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer joined officials from NYC Parks on Dec. 16 to cut the ribbon on the newly reconstructed $1.8 million plaza and seating area at Doughboy Park in the heart of Woodside.
Work involved the reconstruction of the existing memorial wall, which included the re-setting of the 9-11 Memorial Plaque, and the installation of new granite veneer facing and bluestone coping.
The plaza was repaved with new bluestone pavement and includes new benches to provide ample seating. The flagpole was reconstructed and the World War I memorial stone tablets were relocated within a planting bed around the Doughboy statue.
The reconstruction project was a priority for longtime Woodside Civic Association President Ed Bergendahl, a Korean War veteran who passed away in 2018. Bergendahl would preside over the annual Sept. 11 remembrance events at Doughboy Park reminding all who attended that Woodside’s ZIP code has the largest representation of those that died on 9/11 and during the Vietnam War.
“Doughboy Plaza is a sacred place that is now in the beautiful condition it rightfully deserves,” Van Bramer said. “I funded this project at the request of the late Ed Bergendahl, a veteran who knew how important this space is to the community, and I am thrilled that after the restoration and improvements it is open once again for the public to enjoy.”
The park is tucked behind P.S. 11, on the corner of Woodside Avenue between 54th and 56th streets, where soldiers gathered at the “mustering ground” before departing to fight in World War I. The Returning Soldier, later dubbed the Woodside Doughboy, was a monument erected at the site in 1923 by the Woodside Community Council in remembrance of the local men and women who served in World War I.
The Woodside Doughboy is one of eight such statues erected in New York City parks.
“Woodside’s Doughboy Park now has a brand new bluestone plaza, making it a worthy space to recognize and honor all of the soldiers who gave their lives in service to their country,” Queens Borough Parks Commissioner Michael Dockett said. “We are thrilled that this project was completed in time for the community to enjoy it over the fall season, and we’re grateful to Council member Van Bramer for his support on this transformative project.”
The park also has new landscaping with new trees, shrubs and new stair access to the upper dog run area.