Flushing Meadows Corona Park
The Daily Plant : Thursday, March 14, 2002
COMMISSIONER BENEPE ANNOUNCES TWO APPOINTMENTS
Robert Garafola has been re-appointed as Deputy Commissioner for Management and Budget. In this position he will be responsible for overseeing the management of Parks’ budget, internal auditing program, welfare-to-work division, (which includes POP, WEP, JAC, and PACT) and OMP. Prior to his career at Parks, Garafola worked at Housing Preservation & Development, becoming the Budget Director in 1980. In 1983 he came to Parks, where he’s remained, as the Assistant Commissioner for Management and Budget. In 1986, he was promoted to Deputy Commissioner of Management and Budget. Some of his accomplishments include creating the Parks Computer Resource Centers, expanding after-school programs, and implementing many of Parks’ management systems. Garafola received his MA in City Planning from Harvard University in 1973 and is a life-long resident of New York City.
Kevin Jeffrey has been appointed Deputy Commissioner for Public Programs. Beginning on April 2, he will oversee Recreation and the Urban Park Service, which includes Urban Park Rangers, Parks Enforcement Patrol, and Central Communications. Kevin returns to Parks after taking a brief break to serve as Executive Director of the Bedford-Stuyvesant YMCA and also as Regional Director of the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation. His first job in Parks was as a Park Ranger in 1979. He worked in UPS until 1990, eventually becoming the Executive Director of PEP. In 1990 Jeffrey was appointed Chief of Operations for Prospect Park and Chief of Recreation in 1992. The Daily Plant is pleased to welcome Kevin Jeffrey back to the Parks Department after a few years away hiatus.
IN QUEENS, TAKING OUT THE TRASH CAN BE QUITE A FEAT
The year was 1989. Across New York City, the subway fare jumped from $1.00 to $1.15. In Europe, the Berlin Wall finally came down after 28 years. In Sweden, the Dalai Lama received the Nobel Peace Prize. And in Queens, a Toyota was driven into the Idlewild Preserve during low tide and abandoned.
For years, the car, as well as a Ford van that was abandoned in 1991, remained eyesores in the wetlands, and there was little that anyone could do. During that time, Parks found no luck in receiving Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) permits to remove the vehicles. "The stipulation had always been that the vehicles be removed vertically," said Borough Commissioner Richard Murphy (who’s birthday is today). DEC—concerned that dragging out the vehicles would damage the wetlands—recommended that Parks lift the vehicles out with a helicopter. Unable to pay for such a pricey removal process, the situation "seemed hopeless through the years," according to Murphy.
It wasn’t until Murphy contacted Vincenzo Oppedisano that a flash of hope appeared. Oppedisano, who owns Sano Construction in College Point, Queens, has helped Parks many times by lending resources and time to clean Queens parks. His volunteer efforts include the excavation of 1000 yards of concrete and brick debris in Twin Coves and the dredging of 700-800 yards of hex-block pavers from the Fountain of the Planet in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park. In the latter case, Oppedisano used a cleat kamatsu—a large crane with a shovel loader and bucket—to scoop out thousands of pavers people had thrown into the fountain since the 1970s.
Commissioner Murphy asked Oppedisano to visit at the site to determine whether he had the proper equipment to use to remove the cars. Oppedisano believed he had the just the thing: a 35-ton crane that could extend directly above the two vehicles and lift them out vertically.
Last Thursday, NYPD closed a section of Brookville Blvd. which borders the wetlands area. Oppedisano brought the crane to the site by trailer. He then climbed in a harness, tied a chain around the car’s engine block, and signaled for the car to be lifted out of the water. "Little fish actually came popping out of the car," recalled Murphy. Next came the van, which took two lifts to be removed (as it had rusted and fallen apart). All of the vehicle parts were loaded into a Parks container truck which carted them away. Meanwhile, throughout the vehicles’ removal, POP and park workers cleaned litter from the roadsides and flower beds. Ultimately, Thursday’s cleanup was a resounding success.
Illegal dumping still remains a chronic problem in the city’s parks. Dumped garbage often includes household waste, vehicle parts, contractor debris, refrigerators, and commercial waste. Through the installation of fences, guard rails, and berms (earthen mounds), Parks has drastically reduced amount of garbage dumped on Parks properties each year.
In 1989, abandoned cars were a common sight in New York City. Today, they hardly exist at all. Thanks to the generosity of one devoted citizen, two such vehicles that had seemed untouchable for over a decade have now been cleared from the waters of a gorgeous Queens wetlands preserve.
By Eric Adolfsen
QUOTATION FOR THE DAY
"The whole of science is nothing more
than a refinement of everyday thinking."
(March 14, 1879- 1955)