Baisley Pond Park
Parks & Recreation Announces August’s Park Of The Month
Monday, August 14, 2006
Where can you gaze at turtles peeking out from under lily pads, join a cricket game, or play on newly renovated playgrounds…all within a stone’s throw of a bustling international airportΑ Southeastern Queens’ Baisley Pond Park. An expansive 110 acres, the park offers amenities for naturalists and athletes of all ages. With millions of dollars recently allotted to enhance the park, as well as an initiative to promote and bring new programming to parks in the area, Parks & Recreation is pleased to announce Baisley Pond Park as August’s Park of the Month.
"The selection of Baisley Pond Park for this honor speaks volumes about the superb greenspaces in southeastern Queens," said Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe. "With our ongoing initiative to promote parks in southeastern Queens, we take the diamonds—Baisley Pond Park, Brookeville Park, Idlewild Park and Springfield Park—from the rough. At Baisley Pond Park in particular, we are incredibly grateful for recent funding for improvements from City Council Member Thomas White, Jr. and Borough President Helen M. Marshall."
Council Member White has long been committed to Baisley Pond Park, having funded the construction of Mother Carter Garden in honor of community icon Laura "Mother" Carter, as well as renovations to several of the playgrounds in the park during the 1990s. He also recently allotted $2.5 million for future projects. Borough President Marshall also contributed $700,000 for new pathways last year.
The improvements benefit a park that has served the southeastern Queens community for close to 90 years. One of the oldest artificial bodies of water on Long Island, 30-acre Baisley Pond was created in the 18th century when farmers dammed three streams to power a grain mill. The pond and park are named for David Baisley, a local farmer who owned the land and who operated the mill in the early 19th century.
In the 1850s "Baisley Pond," also then known as Jamaica Pond, was acquired by the city of Brooklyn for its water supply. For decades, it provided Brooklyn with more than 3 million gallons of water a day. When Brooklyn Water Works dredged the pond in 1852, they uncovered the remains of an American Mastodon, which likely lived there approximately ten thousand years ago.
When the park opened to the public in 1919, Queens was still a predominately rural area, and the park remained a rustic preserve. During the Great Depression of the 1930s, Commissioner Robert Moses and the Works Progress Administration constructed recreational facilities in the northern part of the park, including a boat landing, several playgrounds, tennis and handball courts, baseball diamonds, and a football field.
In 1984, Parks Commissioner Henry Stern, with the help of the local community, was able to transform the southern extension of the park and unify it with the northern part. The newly reconstructed section now includes tennis and handball courts, a running track, an athletic field, cricket mounds, basketball courts, and a playground. The park features a total of five playgrounds, one of which has a child-friendly mastodon statue that commemorates the animal whose bones were found in the pond.
The park remains a vital natural habitat for many species of plant and animal life. Besides its abundance of lily pads, the pond is home to bullfrogs and multiple species of turtles—red-eared sliders, snapping turtles, and musk turtles. Eight varieties of dragonflies and a spectacular array of bird life including Canadian geese, coots, herons, and egrets also thrive in the park.
Although rich in flora and fauna with ample facilities, the park has not hosted major events in recent years. Parks hopes that its new initiative to increase event programming throughout southeastern Queens will start a new trend—beginning with the first-ever Southern Queens Gospel Fest. The Gospel Fest will debut in Baisley Pond Park on Saturday, September 30, 2006 from 6:00-9:00 p.m. Those interested in registering a choir or receiving more information about the event should call 311 or visit www.nyc.gov/parks.
Park of the Month introduces some our greatest parks and greenspaces to curious New Yorkers and visitors alike.
Directions to Baisley Pond Park
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