Community, pols applaud affordable housing units in project
Although leaves are falling off trees as New York City settles into autumn, the season is still a perfect time for New Yorkers to plant flowers and enjoy their outdoor spaces.
This past weekend, the Hunters Point Parks Conservancy hosted its annual LIC Bulbfest. Volunteers planted 16,000 new bulbs in Gantry Plaza State Park and Hunters Point South Park, which will bloom once spring arrives.
Since its inception seven years ago, the LIC Bulbfest event has planted nearly 42,000 bulbs in the two parks, many of which continue to bloom year after year.
“We are very excited to continue this LIC tradition for a seventh season,” said conservancy president Rob Basch. “The parks have never looked better, and we all look forward to our community turning out once again to contribute to keeping our parks the special place they have become.”
All of the bulbs for the event were donated by the Van Zyverden Company, while additional funding was contributed by corporate sponsors, including Amazon.
“This event is such a fun opportunity for our community to get together and experience the park,” said Carley Graham Garcia, Amazon’s head of External Affairs for New York City. “We’re looking forward to enjoying these blooms with our neighbors across the metro area in the spring.”
Dozens of volunteers attended this year’s event, making it one of the largest in the Hunters Point Parks Convervancy’s history despite ongoing COVID considerations.
Although the past year and a half have been difficult, Basch and the Hunters Point Parks Conservancy team remain committed to maintaining Western Queens’ green spaces for the community and future generations.
“Last year was challenging with a lot of illegal activity in the park,” Basch explained. “People were drinking outside and having raves until 3 a.m. because they weren’t able to meet anywhere else.
“There are going to be a ton of new people coming to the neighborhood, and we have a strong desire to keep the parks clean and safe for the future,” he added. “You need a strong conservancy to maintain these spaces.”
Thanks to $4.5 million in city funding, a new grass soccer field and sidewalks and improved area drainage are in store for College Point Fields.
The renovations will convert an under-utilized baseball field into a soccer field adjacent to the existing synthetic soccer field.
Queens Parks Commissioner Michael Dockett called the future renovations a “tremendous investment” that adds to a number of projects that have reshaped the park and its athletic amenities.
He praised Councilman Paul Vallone for his commitment to the fields. Vallone also secured over $7 million for a natural turf football field that is set to be completed next fall.
Separately, $2.8 million in funds were secured to build sports and security lighting around the new fields and walkways, as well as an LED scoreboard.
Renovations also include a new access point to the park via a pedestrian pathway bridge on Linden Place, as well as new plantings along the connection paths.
Vallone said that the demand and feedback his office received was mostly, if not all, for more soccer fields. Currently, there is a year-long waiting list for teams to use the nearby synthetic field.
“It feels amazing,” said Vallone. “Everyone knows agencies don’t work with brilliant speed, but these projects you can see have been getting worked on.”
Over 1,000 people sign up for conservancy fundraiser
All proceeds go to Hunters Point Parks Conservancy
Slow but steady improvements have been coming to College Point thanks to increased communication between government agencies and a new task force created buy the Borough President’s Office.
A primary focus of the College Point Task Force has been the repaving of neighborhood streets that were tore up as part of a sewer project.
Residents were told the streets wouldn’t be repaved until the project was done and that it would take two-and-a-half years. Five years later, the project remains incomplete and the streets remain untouched.
“If you look at Community Board 7, they’re all typically areas that tend to have more money and more influence,” said Jennifer Shannon, a member of the task force and president of A Better College Point Civic Association. “If you drive through their neighborhoods, for the most part, their streets look really good. You drive through College Point, you really feel like you’re driving through a wartorn country.”
Shannon and her civic association member finally got the attention of Borough President Donovan Richards.
The taks force consists of representatives of the Borough President’s Office, Con Edison, department of Design and Construction, Environmental Protection and Transportation, and three residents.
So far, a number of construction sites have been cleaned up, but none of the streets have been repaved. Shannon praised the increased communication between the agencies, but acknowledges that there is still much to be done in the community.
“They said they were going to start the restoration, probably a month back, and I don’t even really think they started at all,” said Shannon. “We’ll be happy once we see them actually following through completely.”
In June,Borough President Donovan Richards created the College Point Task Force to address quality-of-life issues in the neighborhood by facilitating communication between residents and different city agencies.
“Unlike what was happening before, every agency is now at the table,” Richards said last week while meeting with members of the task force. “Since those task force meetings convened, we have begun to see agencies speaking with one another and some of the issues addressed in the community.”
Democratic City Council candidate Tony Avella, who used to represent College Point in both the State Senate and City Council, praised the formation of the task force. He hopes it can help address the deplorable condition of the streets throughout Collee Point.
“It’s like a Third World country,” Avella said. “No other neighborhood in the borough of Queens has streets like this. We need to call attention to it.”
Standing in front of a poorly paved road at the corner of 120th Street and 20th Avenue, Avella explained how the Borough President’s Task Force and other bureaucracy-reducing measures will enable City agencies to address multiple issues within a single project.
“Here is a perfect example,” Avella said while gesturing towards the street. “We needed the sewers done, a project that began the last year I was in the Senate. But when you finish a street, you need to finish it. The agencies should also resurface the street before they move on to the next street and leave.
“If there has to be more money in a sewer contract so that the street can also be resurfaced, that’s a quick fix, we can do that,” he continued. “But the agencies need to change their mindset so they can do that.”
Avella will face off against Republican challenger Vickie Paladino this fall in the general election. Avella used the Task Force as an example of the changes he would bring about in the district if elected thanks to his strong connections in the political world.
“I have a lot of contacts from my time in the council and the senate with agencies and people in politics,” Avella said. “I actually supported the borough president in the special election. I also have a relationship with new mayor Eric Adams. We both served on the state senate.
“We all have the same intention to go back to the local issues, delivery of city services, and making the city agencies more responsive,” he added.
“Forget about the political ideology,” Richards added. “That doesn’t matter and shouldn’t matter when it comes to addressing quality-of-life issues. I think we can all agree that we want clean streets, smooth roads, and infrastructure that works.”