This Williamsburg garden is named for Greenpoint resident Edward S. Lentol (1909-1981), who devoted thirty years of his life to public service and to improving the quality of life in Williamsburg and Greenpoint. Born on December 26, 1909, Lentol was a lifelong resident of the area and received his primary and secondary education at P.S. 50 and Eastern District High School in Brooklyn. After receiving his undergraduate degree from St. John’s University, he attended St. John’s Law School.
Lentol’s political career began in 1948 when he was elected to the New York State Assembly, an office he held until 1962. As a Democratic senator from 1963 to 1972, Lentol established himself as a staunch opponent of the death penalty and a vocal member of the banking, civil service, state pensions and public utilities committees. Lentol sponsored the 1965 state law that restricted use of the death penalty to people convicted of killing law enforcement officers in the line of duty and criminals convicted, while serving life sentences, of murdering prison guards or other inmates. Forever a champion of community causes, Lentol was the president of the Williamsburg Neighborhood Council and of Brooklyn Psychiatric Clinics, Inc. Lentol’s final appointment, to the State Supreme Court, lasted from 1972 until his death on December 11, 1981. Just as Lentol had followed in the footsteps of his father Joseph Lentol, so would his son, former Assemblyman Joseph R. Lentol, continue the family tradition of legislative service in the 1980s.
The land for Lentol Garden was acquired by the city in 1946 during proceedings for the creation of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway and became parkland that same year. The BQE was constructed under the direction of Parks Commissioner Robert Moses from 1946 to 1964 at a cost of $137 million from federal, state and city funds. Linking the boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens, the six-lane, 11.7 mile long highway was built to relieve congestion on local streets and to aid industry and business by shortening transportation time. Having undergone repeated reconstruction projects during the 1960s, 70s and 80s, the BQE will receive a $240-million, four-year rehabilitation from the New York State Department of Transportation, scheduled to be completed in 2004.
Lentol Garden was named by local law in 1992. Parks and the Bayard Block Association have joined forces to transform this site into a garden fragrant with blooming roses and tulips, hollyhocks, poppies, daisies, black-eyed Susans, marigolds and a myriad of other flowers. Additional fertilizing assistance comes from bees, who are as lured by the heady scent of the garden as are residents of this neighborhood. Just inside the eight-foot black steel fence with granite columns stand well-trimmed coniferous trees, evergreens, and shade trees. A landscaped path leads past rocks, an arbor, benches, a birdfeeder and a birdbath. A streetlamp within the garden illuminates it at night and a yardarm flagpole stands at the southeastern corner. Lentol Garden, in the midst of several busy thoroughfares, is a welcome respite from the bustle of urban life all year long.