Newly allocated funding will bring upgraded restrooms and a three-part water fountain for drinking, filling up bottles and hydrating pets at Francis Lewis Park in Whitestone.
Councilwoman Vickie Paladino announced the allocation of $2.1 million for improvements to the 17-acre park in partnership with City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams on Sept. 26 for the 2024 Fiscal Year.
“Francis Lewis Park holds a special place in my heart as a native resident of Whitestone for my entire life. However, the park does not require much attention as the Friends of Francis Lewis Park work so hard to maintain the park,” said Councilwoman Vickie Paladino. “I consider the group experts and that’s why I took their advice so seriously when they asked me to consider funding a renovation for their bathroom and water fountain at the park.”
The councilwoman thanked the Department of Parks and Recreation for working together through budget negotiations, as well as Friends of Francis Lewis Park for their continuous efforts to take care of the park. She specifically expressed gratitude to co-president Dorian Mecir, a volunteer who started a park cleanup effort in 2020, for her “selfless commitment to the park.”
“Your work does not go unnoticed and I can’t say enough how grateful I am,” Paladino added.
The park has undergone many renovations over the years, most recently with construction on the plaza surrounding the flagpole in the park, which was completed in January 2023. The entire reconstruction project through the Parks Department lasted over three years and received close to $2 million in funding secured by the City Council. It brought a new paved entryway, paths, benches, game tables and various plantings.
“Wonderful news for Francis Lewis Park! Thank you Council Member Vickie Paladino for getting the bathroom renovations fully funded,” Mecir wrote on Facebook. “We are so grateful for your advocacy and perseverance on behalf of your community and your parks! We can’t wait to see the upgrades- meet me, Nestor & Kacie at the water fountain!!”
The waterfront park, tucked beneath the Whitestone Bridge and bordered by the East River, was acquired by the city in 1937. It features courts for basketball, bocce and handball, as well as playgrounds, spray showers and kayak launch sites.
The park is open to the public from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. everyday.