Astoria Park

The Daily Plant : Tuesday, July 24, 2001


Astoria Park's most prominent natural feature is the East River. Six years ago Parks held an East River Festival to celebrate the return of the shad fish to the ecosystem. The shad, which are born in fresh water, and spend all but the end of their lives in salt water, were disappearing from the East River. With cleaner waters, they are returning. On land, people are making better use of the City's waterfronts. A healthy waterway, especially when coupled with a spacious, well-equipped park, is the sort of attraction around which neighbors congregate. At this year's annual East River Festival, the Urban Park Rangers celebrated the community building power of parks and rivers and the natural pairing of the two.

In partnership with the Department of Youth and Community Development, the Rangers staged a festival on Saturday, July 14 with the themes of youth and the environment in mind. They helped kids fish and design their ideal river, they exhibited birds and educational materials. Performers at the festival included Arm-of-the-Sea Theatre, Jerry Joy Music, and salsa and jazz bands. At the end of a speaking ceremony, Commissioner Henry J. (StarQuest) Stern and Jerry (Camaraderie) Cammarata, Commissioner for the Department of Youth and Community Development presented awards to the four winners of a Youth SpeakOut essay contest whose words about the environment earned them praise and lap top computers from Apple.


Between last June and this spring, Cadwallader Colden Playground in Queens underwent a comprehensive renovation that touched its every corner. Today, the playground looks like a million bucks. It's got colorful new play equipment and color seal coating on the basketball courts. The wall of the handball court and the multi-use ballfield were reconstructed too. Parks installed new swings and spray showers, renovated the benches, and laid down safety surfacing. Ever since the reconstruction was completed, the playground's enjoyed more visitors than ever.

A million bucks-1.2 million to be precise-is how much money Council Member Julia (Mama Bear) Harrison contributed to the work. She joined Parkies and community residents at a ribbon cutting on Friday, July 13 to mark the start of a $560,000 renovation of the comfort station. Throughout the design and planning process, Parks worked with the Mitchell Linden Civic Association.

In 1987, Commissioner Henry J. (StarQuest) Stern named the playground for scientist and statesman Cadwallader Colden, for whom the neighboring school, P.S. 214, is also named. In the late 1700s Colden served as acting Governor of the royal province of New York. He remained loyal to the British government right through the Stamp Act Crisis of 1765. For his loyalty to the British, his effigy was hanged and burned in New York City in 1765. When the revolutionary war broke out, he was forced from office. Fortunately he was a better scientist than politician. He was a student of biology, botany, chemistry, physics, and astronomy. When he learned of a new classification system for flora and fauna, he classified the local species of Flushing, Queens. His scholarship and his attraction to nature are honored in the naming of the park.

Thanks to Marilyn (Allergy) Bittermen, District Manager for Community Board 7; Richard (Ricardo) Murphy, Queens Borough Commissioner; Estelle (Unisphere) Cooper, Assistant Commissioner for Queens; Ed (Labrador) Lewis, Assistant Commissioner for Queens; Eric (Clouseau) Goetz, Park Manager; Thomas (Tom Cat) Panzone, Outreach Coordinator for Partnerships for Parks all of whom were present at the ribbon cutting, and are among those responsible for the lively playground.

(Tuesday, July 26, 1988)


As mothers with strollers wheeled their tots along the winding paths of Owl's Head Park and kids on skate boards cooled off under water sprinklers yesterday morning, scores of Parks workers were busily sprucing up the Bay Ridge, Brooklyn park under the agency's "5 X 5" clean-up and repair program.

Chainsaws buzzed and you could smell freshly cut grass in the air as crews cleared debris from landscaped slopes, removed dead trees, pruned healthy ones and mended in-house maintenance cracks in asphalt pavement. The "5 X 5" program, now in its second year, is the largest in-house maintenance campaign undertaken by Parks in decades. As part of this self-funded program, Parks cleans and repairs five major park sites in each of the five boroughs throughout the year.


"Oh, Brignal banks are wild and fair,
And Greta woods are green,
And you may gather garlands there
Would grace a summer's queen."

Sir Walter Scott (1771-1832)

Directions to Astoria Park

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