Photo credit: NYC Parks
Francis Lewis Park in Whitestone

A Whitestone park will get some long-awaited improvements thanks in part to funding from a Queens councilman.

As part of the nearly $19 million Councilman Paul Vallone secured in capital funding, the lawmaker announced that he and the City Council had allocated $2 million for improvements at Francis Lewis Park. Vallone secured this funding for northeast Queens as part of the $92.8 billion budget agreement between Mayor de Blasio and the City Council back in June.

The councilman’s office allocated $300,000 and partnered with Speaker Corey Johnson to allocate an additional $1.7 million. The funding will go toward improvements including pathway repavings and updates to the Third Avenue entrance of the park as well as the Veterans Memorial.

“I am thrilled to announce this funding allocation, which will go a long way to improve one of northeast Queens’ waterfront gems,” said Vallone. “Access to our public spaces is an integral part of ensuring sustained quality of life in northeast Queens. I thank Speaker Johnson for his partnership, and I know these improvements will be enjoyed by families in northeast Queens for years to come!”

Johnson added, “The people of northeast Queens deserve nothing less than a first-class park, and that’s exactly what they are going to get with this funding,” said Speaker Corey Johnson. “Council member Vallone is a true advocate for his district, and it was a pleasure to work with him during this budget process to help his constituents. I can’t wait to see the final results.”

According to Vallone’s office, he will meet with community leaders this winter to discuss the scope of the upgrades to Francis Lewis Park.

“We are beyond excited to be so generously included in the city’s budget,” said Dorian Colucci Mecir, co-president of Friends of Francis Lewis Park. “We are grateful to Council member Vallone and the City Council for their support of these important improvements for the crown jewel of our neighborhood. The repair and beautification of Francis Lewis Park will bring joy and recreation to the community for many years to come.”

The Whitestone park was named after Francis Lewis, an American merchant and a signer of the Declaration of Independence. In 1937, the Parks Department acquired the land from the private estate of Edwin H. Brown and transformed it into a public recreational space.

“As the president of The Greater Whitestone Taxpayers Civic Association, I would like to thank Councilman Vallone for all he has done for our community,” said Kim Cody. “With this additional $2 million investment in Francis Lewis Park, once again he has worked diligently on behalf of the community. Though we appreciate all the areas he is scheduling for upgrades, I believe the monument in Francis Lewis Park being upgraded has been long overdue. On behalf of all our members and all of the residents of Whitestone, thank you.”

Over the past 27 years, Francis Lewis Park has received several renovations and upgrades. In 1992, the park received a $466,000 upgrade to reconstruct the shoreline, overlook and embankment areas to correct and prevent severe erosion. In 1999, former Queens Borough President Claire Shulman advocated for the installation of a bocce court.

In April 2019, Whitestone resident Jonathan Salazar saw the completion of the park’s own Little Free Library, a take-and-return public book system he had been pushing since 2018.

“Francis Lewis Park is the crown jewel of our community,” said We Love Whitestone Civic President Alfredo Centola. “We Love Whitestone, along with Friends of Francis Lewis Park, have been discussing upgrades with Councilman Vallone that would enhance our crown jewel. We are pleased to be part of this process and look forward to the final product to be enjoyed by our community for years to come. We thank the councilman for securing the funds to make this happen.”

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