The New York City Council recently voted to adopt the 2023 budget which included a total of over $16 million in funding for Queens parks.
Frank Principe Park is receiving $6.8 million for the reconstruction of the children’s play area, including new play equipment, safety surfacing, pavements, drainage system and security lighting.
Lance Lovejoy, from Friends of Frank Principe, a community organization that works to improve their park, said that he’s thrilled with the funding but hopes more is coming.
“I think it’s way overdue,” Lovejoy said. “I’m very happy and I hope it’s just the start for things to come. The park has been neglected forever. I think since we started posting everything [to Facebook] it got the ball rolling and I hope this is just the beginning.”
Councilman Robert Holden worked to bring this funding to his district and is happy to say “Queens is no longer short-changed.”
“Along with introducing common-sense legislation and the strong emphasis I’ve always placed on constituent services, making sure my constituents get their fair share of the city’s funding is one of my top priorities,” Holden said. “I’m proud to say that funding will continue where it’s needed most, and we can continue to maintain a high quality of life in our neighborhoods.”
Though residents are overall excited to see funding coming to their local parks and green spaces, some are feeling shortchanged that Mafera Park will only receive $500,000 for various enhancements.
Linda Byszynski, the leader of Friends of Mafera Park, said that she hopes Holden will be able to allocate more funding in the future.
“It’s really disappointing because we’ve been advocating for a very long time and basically with those numbers they have just proven that they prefer to allocate funds for a place like Juniper Park that has been renovated several times over whereas Mafera hasn’t [seen] any renovations in a long time.”
Juniper Valley Park received $3.74 million to renovate the bathrooms by the tennis courts. Byszynski argues that Mafera gets overlooked due to the income disparities between areas like Middle Village where Juniper is and Ridgewood’s Mafera.
“If they wanted to distribute the money fairly they could do it,” Byszynski said. “We’re not giving up on Mafera Park. It serves over 100,000 people and it should get the proper funding it deserves.”
Kevin Ryan, communications director for Holden, said that any implication that this funding was based on income in certain neighborhoods is simply not true.
“The councilman believes that every park in the city is a jewel of the city,” Ryan said. “He always wants more parks, better funded parks and nicer parks all over the city.”
Ryan explained that for Mafera Park to receive more funding, residents would need to come forward with specific requests so Holden could reach out to the Parks Department to try and make it happen.
“Work with our office and identify priorities. Prioritize one thing over another and the councilman will work on that and we’ll start the process,” Ryan said.
“Uncle” Vito F. Maranzano Glendale Playground received $5.8 million to replace playground mats, renovate the site configuration and do drainage work.