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QNS file photo by Bruce Adler

Fort Totten Park is reopening to the public on Monday, June 1, Councilman Paul Vallone announced this week. 

At the end of March, a partnership between the city and The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) brought an out-of-state cavalry of approximately 250 ambulances and 500 EMTs and paramedics to Fort Totten Park to help the city’s overburdened first responders deal with unprecedented numbers of emergency medical calls amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

The EMS had responded to a record number of medical emergencies each day — a 50 percent increase over normal daily call volume. 

Now, the FDNY and the city’s parks department are preparing to reopen Fort Totten Park.

Vallone had sent a letter to the Fire Department on May 21 asking to reopen the park in an effort to give residents in northeast Queens more space to follow the social distancing rules that require New Yorkers to to stay six feet apart from others.

“The closure of the park has caused severe overcrowding at nearby Little Bay Park and the overcrowding is dangerous and makes social distancing impossible,” Vallone said in the letter. “Fort Totten is, as you know, sprawling and our residents would be much safer outdoors if this could be made available to them.”

In response to Vallone’s letter, the Fire Department said that closing the park was “critical to our operations and to the safety of park visitors as ambulances from across the country were staged there while assisting FDNY EMS.”

“We do understand the importance of making the park space available to mitigate overcrowding and to encourage social distancing as summer approaches,” said Jason Shelly, director of Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs. 

According to Shelly, while a number of out-of-state units working under the National Ambulance Contract remain through the end of the month, they will be gone by Sunday, May 31.

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