City breaks ground on renovation project to transform Captain Dermody Triangle in Bayside

Photo by Ethan Marshall

Several Queens community members and leaders gathered at the Captain Dermody Triangle on April 21 to celebrate the start of renovation work at the site. This comes approximately two years after the project was unanimously approved by Community Board 11.

Photo by Ethan Marshall

Among those in attendance for the ground-breaking were Queens Borough President Donovan Richards, NYC Parks Commissioner Sue Donoghue, state Senator John Liu, Assemblywoman Nily Rozic, Councilwoman Linda Lee, CB 11 District Manager Joseph Marziliano and Bayside Hills Civic Association President Michael Feiner.

“We are so excited to begin renovations on the historic Captain Dermody Triangle, which was originally dedicated in 1866 and has been a part of the community for nearly 200 years,” Donoghue said. “From our largest parks, to our smallest green oases, all open space in the city is precious and thanks to advocacy from state Senator Liu for this upcoming reconstruction project, this space will soon better serve New Yorkers for generations to come.”

Captain Dermody Triangle will be completely reconstructed as a result of this project. The northeast entrance will be relocated to the northwest in order to allow for the creation of a new crosswalk to the park from 216th Street. A wider ADA accessible entrance ramp will also be added from the street to the park. New benches and plantings will also be added.

“This is truly a win for the Bayside community, who have enjoyed this triangle for many decades,” Borough President Richards said. “It’s a win for open space, because everyone knows we need a lot more of it in Queens County. And it’s a win for the legacy of who this triangle is named after. Captain William Dermody was a dedicated and outspoken abolitionist from Bayside who lost his life during the Civil War fighting for a fairer America. His legacy will live on through this project.”

The Bayside Civil War Memorial Boulder will still be the main focal point of the park once reconstruction is completed. The former bronze plaque will get replicated and mounted on the boulder. The entire reconstruction project was made possible from a $500,000 grant secured by Liu from the NYS Dormitory Authority.

“After many years of planning, we are thrilled to finally be moving forward with this much needed renovation of Captain Dermody Triangle,” Liu said. “Not only will this location be a beautiful community amenity adding new trees, plantings and walkways, but it will preserve an important figure of our local history by memorializing Captain William C. Dermody and his service during the Civil War. In this time of increasing political polarization, it’s fitting for our community to have places like this to reflect on our past, which saw our country fight against itself, only to come together once again ‘For a Better Union.'”

Liu also thanked the Parks Department and the Bayside Hills Civic Association, including President Feiner and Board Member Sebastian D’Agostino for helping to make the project become a reality through their advocacy. For Feiner, this has been something that he had hoped to see done for a long time.

“Today we break ground on a project that has been years in the making thanks to the relentless advocacy of the Eastern Queens community,” Lee said. “Parks and green spaces across our city continue to provide families the open space they need to benefit their health and mental well-being. With these improvements to Dermody Triangle, we are not only improving the accessibility of Captain Dermody Triangle, but we are also beautifying and creating a more welcoming space for our communities to enjoy.”

Captain Dermody was mortally wounded on May 12, 1864 at the Battle of Spotsylvania in Virginia. The plot of land where the triangle now stands had been the site of a two-room school-house until 1865, where Dermody’s sister taught. In 1866, the site was dedicated to his memory by a ceremonial meeting between a soldier from the Union and another from the Confederacy. They planted a maple and sycamore tree there as a means of symbolizing hope for a better union.

Every Memorial Day, the Bayside Historical Society gathers at Dermody Triangle and lays a wreath there to honor him and those who fought in the Civil War.