Rockaway Beach and Boardwalk

Queens Parks Employees Shine At “Best Of Parks” Awards

For Immediate Release
Friday, November 12, 2010
No. 105

Landscape Designers, Carpenters, Blacksmiths and More Honored at Ceremony

The New York City Department of Parks & Recreation held the 9th annual Best of Parks (BOP) Awards on October 28th in the City’s newest waterfront park, Brooklyn Bridge Park. Best of Parks recognizes Parks teams and individuals for outstanding performance. Nominated by their deputy and borough commissioners and managers, BOP winners have made substantial contributions throughout the five boroughs and achieved high marks on various performance scorecards. From maintaining and building first class parks, to designing and implementing creative public programs, to protecting our natural world, BOP winners are role models of effort, reliability, and achievement. This year, two awards were presented to teams working on Queens parks projects.

Capital Team Award: Elmhurst Park

Name Title
Helen Ogrinz Sr. Landscape Architect
Nancy Prince Sr. Landscape Architect
Shani White Assistant Landscape Architect
Imelda Bernstein Landscape Architect Intern
Lee Ann Beauchamp Landscape Architect
Zara Brown Assistant Landscape Architect
Steve Whitesell Designer
Paul Schubert Deputy Director of Architecture
Harrison Chang Architectural Intern
Yelena Lyubarskaya Senior Environmental Engineer
Ben Mulchandani Supervisor for Mechanical Engineering
Edward Vagner Assistant Electrical Engineer
Magary Aime Supervisor for Electrical Engineering
Rudrasen Persaud Environmental Engineer
Rajanikant Patel Electrical Engineer
Vincent Alfano Director of Queens Construction
Robert Gantzer Project Resident Engineer
Arthur Burgess Construction Resident Engineer
Tyler McLeete Construction Project Manager
Michele Greaves-White Assistant Landscape Architect
Andrew Penzi Team Leader
Kevin Quinn Director of Architecture
Joelle Byrer Deputy Team Leader
Golam Hossain Structural Engineer
Muhammed Hussain Mechanical Engineer
Juan Alban Director of Contracts
Patricia Doyle Procurement Analyst
Margarita Martinez Budget Coordinator

At Elmhurst Park in Queens, this Parks team “made lemonade out lemons,” tranforming a debris-strewn brown-field site into a new park. An inter-disciplinary team at Capital took on complex design, permitting and horticultural challenges to bring about a new green park from this abandoned site. The first phase of the park was completed in late 2008 and second phase will open at the end of this year.

The complexity of the Elmhurst project required an unusual number of approvals and permits from outside agencies. The team successfully built consensus among stakeholders and regulators including the Public Design Commission, two community boards, various public officials, DOB, DEC, DEP, and the Board of Health. The project won a ‘Big Apple Brownfield Open-space Award’ before its completion.

The site for Elmhurst Park was almost devoid of trees and other vegetation, with only 16 trees at the northeast corner of Grand Avenue. These trees were retained and protected throughout the construction. Phase I of the park included a woodland garden within the existing grove of trees, with the addition of dogwoods, woodland shrubs, bluebells and ferns. Evergreens were used on the perimeter to screen off-site parking lots and warehouses. The Elmhurst community’s historic orchards and farms are recalled by a new orchard of crabapples on the hillside facing the Long Island Expressway. Close to Grand Avenue, new Zelkova trees were planted around a small oval green intended as a quiet sitting area for seniors. Phase I includes a total of almost 500 new trees. Phase II will add more than 150 more trees, as well as additional shrubs, ground covers and perennials.

Keeping It Cool Award: Queens Shops, Rockaway Boardwalk

Name Title

Jackie Langsam Chief of Operations
Jill Weber Rockaway Park Administrator
Gregory Monaghan SOM
Raymond Aubel Supervisor of Carpenters
Frank Libretto Carpenter
Frank Tito Carpenter
Michael Walsh Jr Carpenter
Steven Hurlburt Carpenter
William Manning Blacksmith
Joseph Rooney Blacksmith Helper

Tornadoes were not the only storms the Parks Department has responded to this year. The nor’easter in November 2009 exposed over 20 boardwalk staircases and ramps on the Rockaway Beach boardwalk from Beach 88th Street to Beach 106th Street, rendering this popular stretch of the beach unusable to the public.

This spring, the Queens Carpenters began the major task of performing repairs to all the entrances to ensure public access for the season. The staff toiled throughout the hot spring and early summer not only repairing the stairs, but in many cases completely rebuilding them from scratch. All staircase repairs and replacements were completed by late July, allowing all beach access points to be reopened. The blacksmiths contributed by fixing all of the handrails on the staircases. The carpenters repaired a large amount of decking along the boardwalk.

Along with a mile of newly constructed concrete boardwalk, the 5-mile Rockaway boardwalk now looks the best that it has in years and offers New Yorkers a safe, public space.

In the last seventeen years, over 3,500 deserving agency employees have been recognized by the Parks Department through 192 Employee of the Months, 20 Annual Awards and eight Best of Parks ceremonies.

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