FORT TOTTEN MOVES FORWARD
In anticipation of the City’s aquisition of Fort Totten, Parks & Recreation has begun making the site safe for people to visit. Under sunny skies last Wednesday, Parks & Recreation Commissioner Adrian Benepe joined State Senator Frank Padavan, Queens Borough President Helen Marshall, New York State Northeastern Queens Nature & Historical Preserve Commission Vice-Chair Bernard Haber, Queens Parks & Recreation Commissioner Richard Murphy, Parks & Recreation’s Northeast Park Administrator Janice Melnick, and many others to begin site safety work at Fort Totten.
The $730,000 project includes installation of hand rails, lighting, paving, signage, and horticultural work. The source of the funds includes roughly $475,000 in State grant money secured by Senator Padavan; an additional $167,000 and $88,000 were allocated by the Borough President and the Mayor, respectively.
"A number of years ago we thought we had to do something to protect the Fort," said Senator Padavan. "We obviously have a long way to go, but we’re off to a good start. Many, many more things will happen here over the years as this becomes truly a park, a jewel in this system of parks across the city."
Commissioner Benepe envisioned the historic setting serving as a venue for free outdoor theatrical productions, such as Shakespeare’s Henry V or Macbeth. "If you’re not stirred by these fortifications, you don’t have blood running through your veins, " said the Commissioner.
"We’re very conscious of the work that has to be done," remarked Borough President Marshall, who reiterated Senator Padavan’s characterization of the Fort as a ‘jewel’. "This is one of the wonders of our country. I look forward to it being fully restored."
The federal government is expected to turn over 90 acres of Fort Totten land to the City, of which Parks & Recreation will acquire about 49 acres. When plans for the fort’s future were devised, it was agreed that the new land would be used to promote public access to recreational open spaces and to the waterfront, and that the open space would be integrated into the New York City Greenway.
Fort Totten will be opened up in stages, according to Parks & Recreation’s Chief of Planning Joshua Laird. After the initial site safety improvements are completed, he explained, Parks & Recreation’s Urban Park Rangers will lead guided tours of the site. As more improvements are made, the park’s visitors will have more and more opportunities to freely explore and enjoy this historic area.
Written by Eric Adolfsen
QUOTATION FOR THE DAY
"In theory there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice there is."