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March 2002 Project of the Month




YELENA LYUBARSKAYA: Environmental Engineering

ARJUN SHETH, MAGARY AIME: Electrical Engineering

PETER WOLPENSINGER, PE: Structural Engineering

BOLGER, COKER, SCHWARTZ: Specifications & Estimating



Funding: This project was funded by the former City Council Member Julia Harrison. The total budget is $1,769,000.

Location: The project is located at 164th Street, south of Oak Avenue in Kissena Park. It is within Council District #20 and Community Board #7.

History: In 1907 the City of New York acquired the property that is now Kissena Park. Drawings and photographs prior to 1943 show Kissena Lake as a natural lake with an artesian well and flow from a stream under 164th Street. In the 1980,s, the stream from under 164th Street was diverted to the trunk storm sewer line. There was also a stream outflow on the opposite side of the lake. This open natural channel led through Kissena Corridor and into Flushing Bay.

illustration of planned Kissena Park Lake Restoration

In 1943 the WPA constructed the lake with the weir at the stream outflow, the boathouse and the adjacent landscape as we know it today. An underground spring (artesian well) which formerly fed Kissena Lake from the southwest was diverted. The northern corner of the lake was filled and converted to a playground.

Also in 1943, a 6" water main was installed adjacent to the boathouse to feed the lake with city water. This main flows continuously. Other than storm water and underwater springs this appears to be the only source of water. In the 1980's, NYC DEP started adding Calcium Ortho Phosphate to the city water.

The trunk storm sewer line (10' x 16') running east/west through the park was constructed in 1948 along the LIRR Creedmore Branch right-of-way. About 900 feet west of the weir a hole was broken (about 2'-6" x 2'-6") into the side of the pipe for the runoff from the lake to go into. In 1982 the perimeter path and lake were reconstructed. At that time the paths were repaved with asphalt and the lake was dredged and the bottom evened out to a consistent 4'-0" depth. In 1998 the pipe and headwall from the weir on the lake were reconstructed. Construction Schedule: The project is currently in the bid cycle and we expect construction to start May 2002.


The lake is a popular attraction in Kissena Park. People sit, fish, exercise, stroll or run around the lake. The landscape surrounding the lake is pastoral with an asphalt perimeter path and large established deciduous trees and lawn. The asphalt path is a part of the Greenway bike path, which services many Queens residents and more specifically the surrounding residential suburbs of Auburndale and Fresh Meadows. Currently, the health of the lake is at risk. The water itself is frequently choked with single-cell algae particularly in the warmer months. The alga also thrives on the alkalinity of the concrete wall and the warmer temperature, alkalinity and calcium ortho phosphate of the city water. There is no other vegetation in the lake to compete with the algae for nutrients.

Over the past 19 years the lake edges have filled in somewhat and the bottom has shifted. The water depth is about 2' around the edges and tapers to a maximum of 9' in pockets in the middle of the lake. The higher temperatures of shallow water over most of the lake help the algae to thrive. The feces of the fowl contribute to the high nutrient level of the water and the overall health.

We hope to improve the current situation at Kissena Lake through this project and possible additional ones. This project will improve the water quality, plant and wildlife habitat of Kissena Lake, and reconstruct the plaza around the boathouse as well as the perimeter path and wall. This will be accomplished by constructing wells and reconstruction of the storm drainage system entering the lake. We will also remove portions of the existing concrete perimeter wall and naturalize the edge of the lake for both aesthetics and the health of the lake. A rock island will provide a safe place for wildlife, including snapping turtles, geese, ducks and swans to gather. The remaining perimeter wall will also be reconstructed along with the perimeter paths and adjacent landscape. We will stabilize the slope adjacent to the recently reconstructed headwall. We will also construct a link to the historic bike path and reconstruct the boathouse plaza.