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City opens new $8.1 million nature center in Rosedale’s Idlewild Park

Idlewild Park
The new $8.1 million Environmental Center opened in Idlewild Park along Jamaica Bay. (QNS/File)

Southeast Queens has a brand new $8.1 million environmental center in Idlewild Park along the Thurston Basin at the northeast corner of Jamaica Bay.

City officials joined elected officials from southeast Queens for a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the Rosedale park on Thursday, April 28.

Idlewild Park
QNS/File

The nature center is located in a new 5,400-square-foot, single-story building that features several green elements that are expected to receive LEED “Silver” rating or better. The roof and walls make use of energy and resource-efficient technology and it was built with recycled materials throughout. The cladding and decking are both largely comprised of recycled materials, according to NYC Parks officials.

The nature center is heated and cooled with an efficient all-electric system so no fossil fuels are burned on-site, and the project restored native plantings at the location which had been overrun with non-native species.

Idlewild Park
QNS/File

The construction of the new building began in 2018 and was funded with $3.173 million from the mayor’s office and $5 million from the Queens borough president’s office.

“After many years in the making, we finally have a community-centered facility in Idlewild Park with a state-of-the-art indoor and outdoor classroom space that will better enable residents to learn about their natural surroundings,” Queens Borough President Donovan Richards said. “The center will enlighten visitors about Idlewild Park and Jamaica Bay and underscore their vital role in our environment, which is under an increasing threat from climate change. Hopefully, the lessons learned in the center will prompt greater support for measures to protect our vulnerable communities from this threat.”

Idlewild Park
QNS/File

The facility will be operated and programmed as a children’s science learning center by the Eastern Queens Alliance and includes an exhibition and display space, two classrooms for up to 30 students each, an outdoor covered teaching area and an entry foyer with a reception desk and book sales kiosk. The center also features restroom facilities for visitors, administrative space for staff, a director’s office and a conference room.

“Set along Jamaica Bay — one of New York City’s greatest ecological treasures — this brand-new Environment Center in Idlewild Park is sure to inspire kids to learn more about the natural world around them,” NYC Parks Commissioner Sue Donoghue said. “We are grateful to the Eastern Queens Alliance for their partnership in creating innovative programming here, and look forward to hosting our future scientists for generations to come.”

Idlewild Park
Assemblyman Khaleel Anderson announced the return of his “Wise Walking Warriors” program for seniors across southeast Queens. (QNS/File)

Elected officials taking part in the ribbon-cutting ceremony included Councilwoman Selvena Brooks-Powers and Assemblyman Khaleel Anderson, who announced earlier in the week the highly anticipated return of his popular “Wise Walking Warriors” senior fitness and nutrition program at Springfield Park, which he helped fully fund for the next three years in partnership with Brooks-Powers and NYC Parks.

“Last fall, our ‘Wise Walking Warriors’ program earned the distinction as the most highly attended senior fitness course citywide, averaging 30 to 40 walkers twice a week at each session,” Anderson said. “We were also the only program across New York City to offer a wellness component and issue a comprehensive feedback survey so that we could hear directly from our seniors. I am excited to re-launch and expand the program to Far Rockaway. I strongly encourage all eligible residents to join our Far Rockaway program and our walking and tennis programs at Springfield Park and Brookville Park this spring.”

For more information and to register for the programs, click here.

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