FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, May 19, 2004
PARKS & RECREATION CELEBRATES RESTORATION OF STRACK POND
Parks & Recreation Commissioner Adrian Benepe today joined Secretary of State for New York State Randy Daniels, Council Member Dennis Gallagher, Parks & Recreation Queens Borough Commissioner Richard Murphy, President of the Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 32 Pat Toro, and family members of Laurence Strack to celebrate the $550,000 restoration of Strack Memorial Pond in Queens. Officials and family members unveiled the new signs for the pond and planted a Red Oak tree to re-dedicate the site to Private First Class Laurence E. Strack.
"Once a soggy and often unusable ballfield, this site is now a beautiful pond, teeming with life," said Parks & Recreation Commissioner Benepe. "By continuing to restore our city's wetlands we make the city a healthier and greener place for all New Yorkers. The over half a million dollar restoration of PFC Laurence Strack Pond gives nature lovers a great new spot to see butterflies, Red Tail Hawks and Great Blue Herons."
Parks & Recreation's Natural Resources Group (NRG) has restored wetlands in Forest Park, transforming two former ballfields back into a pristine kettle pond, or natural bowl-shaped depression. NRG added three acres of freshwater wetland habitat, stabilized the landscape around the pond and restored the slope of the water's edge. NRG also planted native species to create a healthy ecosystem. Visitors can enjoy the pond's new trail and viewing areas. The New York State Clean Water/Clean Air Bond Act and the Mayor allocated the $550,000 to restore the pond located at Forest Park Drive off Woodhaven Boulevard.
In 1966, two ballfields were constructed at this site at the bottom of a glacial kettle. Over the years, the ground settled, and runoff from the surrounding slopes flooded the fields, making them unusable. There were once kettle ponds throughout Forest Park, formed by the last glacier that withdrew from New York twenty thousand years ago. These ponds were filled with plants and flowers, and were a home for salamanders, frogs, birds and other animals.
On February 11, 1969, this site was named in honor of Private First Class Laurence E. Strack (1948-1967), the first Woodhaven resident to die serving in the Vietnam War. Strack was an avid baseball player and fan. In 1966, he enlisted in the United States Army and received his paratrooper training. He returned to Woodhaven to marry his childhood sweetheart before being assigned to the 173 Airborne Brigade. On March 3, 1967 during a combat parachute jump in Vietnam, PFC Strack was killed in a fierce firefight. He posthumously received the Combat Infantrymen's Badge, the Vietnam Service Medal, The Parachutist Badge, The New York State Conspicuous Service Medal and the Bronze Star with "V" Device and Purple Heart.