NYC Parks News for Astoria Park copyright © 2016 NYC Department of Parks and Recreation NYC Department of Parks & Recreation en-us Mon, 30 May 2016 01:21:35 GMT NYC Parks News 25 25 <![CDATA[Spring Birdwatching In New York City]]> pressrelease21208 In springtime, New York City parks offer some of the best birdwatching in the world, as hundreds of bird species migrate north along the Eastern migratory flyway. In the New York metropolitan area, green spaces are clearly defined, and New York City's parks act as green oases where birds can spend the night and restore their energy.

Many of these birds have traveled thousands of miles from their winter homes in Central and South America, and will travel hundreds or thousands more to locations in New England and Canada. For others, New York City will become their summer home. One such species is the piping plover, a small, sand-colored shorebird that the US Fish & Wildlife Service has listed as an endangered species. Piping plovers nest on Rockaway Beach in Queens for the summer.

The NYC Parks Urban Park Rangers offer guided birdwatching tours throughout the year to help you locate and identify the incredible diversity of aviary species in New York City. Though every migration season is different, depending on weather patterns, our Rangers predict that peak spring birding will continue through the end of June. Come learn what's flying through your neighborhood this season!

Birding with the Urban Park Rangers:

High Rock Park in Staten Island
Sunday, May 25 at 9:00 a.m.
Watch for hawks with the Urban Park Rangers! Participants are encouraged to bring their own binoculars, but Rangers will have extras.

Astoria Park in Queens
Saturday, May 31 at 11:00 a.m.
Watch for hawks with the Urban Park Rangers! Participants are encouraged to bring their own binoculars, but Rangers will have extras.

Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx
Saturday, June 7 at 10:00 a.m.
Meet at the Van Cortlandt Park Nature Center near West 246th Street for an excursion through the rolling hills and forests of Van Cortlandt Park.

Birding with our partner groups:

The Urban Park Rangers are part of a vibrant birding community in New York City. Many of our partner organizations, including the Central Park Conservancy, Van Cortlandt Park Conservancy, Prospect Park Alliance, NYC Audubon, and Freshkills Park Alliance offer their own birdwatching programs. Check out a few birdwatching opportunities here:

Van Cortlandt Park Conservancy
Every Saturday at 8:00 a.m. from April through November
Van Cortlandt Park Conservancy and NYC Audubon offer free, guided bird walks throughout Van Cortlandt Park, designated an Important Bird Area by the National Audubon Society. Meet at the Nature Center east of Broadway and 246th Street. For more information, visit

Prospect Park Alliance
o Every Saturday through June 28 at 12:00 p.m.
Join the Prospect Park Alliance and the Brooklyn Bird Club to learn about the 250 species of birds that call Prospect Park home

o Saturdays and Sundays in May at 4:00 p.m.
Meet at the Binnen Bridge in Prospect Park for a family bird-watching tour. The Pop-Up Audubon will be happening all summer in different locations. For more information, visit

Central Park Conservancy
o Every Sunday in May at 10:00 a.m.
Take your family on a Birding for Families tour guided by the NYC Audubon Society to observe all the feathered activity, migratory and year-round residents, in the park. Meet at the Charles A. Dana Discovery Center.

o 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. throughout the year
Borrow a Central Park Conservancy Discovery Kit, free of charge, at the Belvedere Castle. Each kit contains binoculars, a guidebook, maps, and sketching materials. For more information, visit or call 212.772.0288.

Freshkills Park Conservancy
Sunday, May 25 at 10:30 a.m.
Staten Island Museum naturalists will guide a journey into the meadows and wetlands of Freshkills Park to spot songbirds, waterfowl, and raptors.

<![CDATA[Dive In And Help To Restore The Astoria Pool Olympic High Dive!]]> dailyplant22658 Partners in Preservation website or Facebook page.
While Astoria Parks main pool still attracts more than 100,000 visitors each summer, the diving pool and platform have been closed for decades and are deteriorating rapidly. There are many areas where concrete is chipping, and the bronze railings and other hardware have corroded. Parks recently received $1 million in funding from Council Member Peter Vallone Jr. to create a performance stage over the existing diving pool and a tent canopy covering the sites bleachers. These improvements leave the diving platform, the centerpiece of this future performance center, untouched. This grant funding would allow us to restore the diving platform to its original splendor.
The Olympic High Dive is part of Astoria Pool, one of ten New York City public pools that opened in the summer of 1936, built with labor and funding from the Works Progress Administration. Located in the sixty-acre Astoria Park in Queens, its setting commands spectacular views of the Manhattan skyline and the Hells Gate and Triboro Bridges.
With its streamlined and simple forms, decorative glass block, deco-style steel railings, and Art Moderne-style ticket booth, the pool is one of the most architecturally remarkable public recreational facilities in the country. The significance of this site was recognized by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission, which designated it a landmark in 2006.

NYC Parks is holding a Music & Arts Festival at Astoria Pool a preview of the types of activities that could be held at the performance center on Saturday, May 5 from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. with live bands and theatre, including special musical guest Council Member Peter Vallone Jr. The festival will also include childrens activities, such as face painting, storytelling, inflatable rides, and arts & crafts.
For more information about the Astoria Pool Olympic High Dive and Performance Center go to and search for keyword: Astoria Performance Center.

I'm living so far beyond my income that we may almost be said to be living apart.

e e cummings
(1894 - 1962)
<![CDATA[Parks Celebrates Ollies, Grinds and Fakies at the New Astoria Skate Park]]> dailyplant22282 2016-05-29T21:21:35-04:00 <![CDATA[Ollie, Grind and Fakie at the new Astoria Park Skate Park]]> pressrelease20951 2016-05-29T21:21:35-04:00 <![CDATA[Parks Fleet Gets Even Greener]]> dailyplant20782 2016-05-29T21:21:35-04:00 <![CDATA[Parks Fleet Gets Greener With Nine New Electric Cars]]> pressrelease20132 2016-05-29T21:21:35-04:00 <![CDATA[City Parks Foundation Announces Its 2007 Summer Season Of Free Sports Instruction For Kids]]> pressrelease19909 CityParks Tennis presented by JPMorgan Chase, CityParks Golf, and CityParks Track & Field sponsored by ING

Encouraging Fitness for Over 10,000 Kids in NYC Parks This Summer

Astoria Park, Queens June 13, 2007 Today, City Parks Foundation announced its 2007 season of free sports instruction for kids, ages 5-16, offered in over 50 parks across all five boroughs.

Youth across the city are welcome to participate in free golf, tennis, and track & field programs this July and August, offered for beginners in each sport as well as for those at intermediate and advanced levels. Those interested in participating can call 718-760-6999 or visit

Participants in todays announcement included: David Rivel, Executive Director of City Parks Foundation; Hon. Peter Vallone Jr., Member of the New York City Council; Adrian Benepe, Commissioner of the NYC Dept. of Parks & Recreation; Mike Silverman, Director of Sports Programs for City Parks Foundation; William Gibbs, MD, Director of Rehabilitation Medicine, Queens Hospital Center & Co- Founder of Healthy Lifestyles, a program focusing on pediatric obesity; and more than 30 fourth grade students from PS 122 in Queens.

David Rivel said, "When kids participate in our free sports instruction programs they learn something they can enjoy for their entire lives, they develop a strong connection to the outdoors, to healthy activity, and to practices that lead to success in all aspects of life."

"There are more opportunities than ever for children to have fun and get fit in our city's parks," said Commissioner Adrian Benepe. "Thanks to our extraordinary partnership with City Parks Foundation, thousands of children will learn sports in our parks and on our running tracks, many of which are recently rebuilt."

"This program provides the sports and activity that is essential to the development of our youth. With our kids bombarded every day with junk food and video games, it has become more important today than ever to offer opportunities to stay active and healthy," Council Member Vallone said. "Running, jumping, swinging and sweating, that's what kids should be doing during the summer, and this citywide sports program gives them a free and accessible way to do it."

By offering structured fitness activity for more than 10,000 kids each summer, City Parks Foundation is helping to address well-documented health challenges faced by youth in New York City, including childhood obesity.

"By sponsoring these free programs for our citys young people, City Parks Foundation is taking on an active role in the fight against childhood obesity," said William Gibbs, MD, Director of Rehabilitation Medicine for Queens Hospital Center. "While we know that changes in diet are imperative, the fact is that eating healthier foods must go hand-in-hand with assuming a more active lifestyle. Sports are a vital outlet for our youth and the key to grasping the importance of teamwork, achieving goals and attaining personal self-esteem. I commend City Parks Foundation for introducing free sports instruction to our kids and at the same time, helping to promote a better way of life for them in the long run."

A detailed citywide schedule for all three of City Parks Foundations youth sports instruction programs is available at

CityParks Tennis presented by JPMorgan Chase makes the sport freely available to those who want to learn the game in a fun, relaxed environment. Tennis instruction is available in three skill levels: Peewee (ages 5-7), Beginner (ages 8 and up), and Intermediate (determined by ability). The program, which will be offered at 37 parks this year, concludes with a tournament held at Central Park for beginners and a tournament at Flushing Meadow Park for intermediates titled the JPMorgan Chase Aces Tournament. The program also offers intermediate and advanced players the opportunity to participate in a tournament series and tennis academy.

CityParks Track & Field gives New York City kids the chance to learn the basics of the sport, from hurdles and relay races to long jump, shot put and javelin throw. The program, sponsored by ING, will be offered free of charge at 13 locations throughout the city. All participating children will display the basic skills learned at the end of each season at an organized track meet held at the Randalls Island world-class sports complex, Icahn Stadium.

CityParks Golf provides the most accessible way for children in New York City to learn the sport, in neighborhood parks and at local golf courses through two, four-week sessions. The program will be offered at 19 sites in 2007. The first beginner session starts on July 2nd and runs through August 1st, and the second session starts on July 30th and runs through August 29th. CityParks Golf also offers more advanced instruction through its Intermediate Program and through its acclaimed Junior Golf Academy.

For CityParks Tennis and CityParks Track & Field, participants register at each park when the program is in session. For CityParks Golf, participants are asked to pre-register online at or call (718) 760-6999 to request an application.

City Parks Foundation is the only independent, nonprofit organization to offer park programs throughout the five boroughs of New York City. The organization works in over 700 parks citywide, presenting a broad range of free arts, sports and education programs and helping citizens to support their parks on a local level. Its programs and community-building initiatives reach more than 600,000 New Yorkers each year, contributing to the revitalization of neighborhoods throughout New York City.

In all of its programming and activities, City Parks Foundation partners with the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation to improve neighborhood parks and the communities they serve.


CityParks Tennis presented by JPMorgan Chase

CityParks Track & Field sponsored by ING

Funding is provided by: The National Recreation Foundation; the USGA Foundation; USTA; Hon. Leticia James, Council Member, 35th District; Hon. Gregory Meeks, Member of Congress, 6th District; Hon. Nydia M. Velquez, Member of Congress, 12th District; Hon. JosE. Serrano, Member of Congress, 16th District; Hon. Lewis A. Fidler, Council Member, 46th District.

<![CDATA[Announcing Free Cityparks Seniors Fitness Program Starting April 30]]> pressrelease19885 City Parks Foundation is pleased to announce the start of its Spring 2007 CityParks Seniors Fitness program, which will offer free tennis lessons, yoga instruction, and fitness walking for seniors in six parks across New York City.

CityParks Seniors Fitness will begin on April 30, 2007, at Marine Park in Brooklyn; Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx; Inwood Hill Park in Manhattan; and Astoria Park, Flushing Meadows Corona Park, and Roy Wilkins Park in Queens. The program will run through June 22, 2007 (see full schedule below).

David Rivel, Executive Director of City Parks Foundation, said, We welcome senior New Yorkers to get fit, stay healthy, and have fun together in City parks this spring through our seniors fitness program. Especially in New York, neighborhood parks are excellent places for seniors to exercise and improve their health while meeting new friends and neighbors. Just like City Parks Foundations free sports, arts, and education programs for youth, our seniors fitness program aims to keep neighborhood parks a great place for community activity.

Parks and City Parks Foundation are proud to support the CityParks Seniors Fitness tennis, walking, and yoga programs, said Parks & Recreation Commissioner Adrian Benepe. We aim to help New Yorkers of all ages, shapes, and sizes discover how New York Citys 29,000 acres of parks can enrich their physical and emotional well-being by providing venues for fitness, peaceful respite, and making new friends.

All activities take place twice a week at each location. To maximize health benefits, participants are encouraged to register for two or more weekly activities and maintain regular attendance. Seniors interested in registering for CityParks Seniors Fitness can call (718) 760-6999 or get more information at All equipment and instruction will be offered free of charge.

The health benefits of fitness activities for seniors are well documented. Even in moderate amounts, exercise can help to maintain or lose weight, reduce risk of heart disease and diabetes, and minimize the symptoms of arthritis and osteoporosis.

Dr. Eileen Callahan, Assistant Professor in the Dept. of Geriatrics at Mount Sinai Medical School, said, Fitness activity is a great way for seniors to maintain and improve their health. Many health concerns, including diabetes, high blood pressure, arthritis, osteoporosis, and possibly memory-loss, can be improved with consistent physical activity.

CPF appreciates the opportunity to work with Namaste New York and NY Walkers Club, organizations that will be providing expert instruction through the CityParks Seniors Fitness program.

The Spring 2007 Schedule for CityParks Seniors Fitness is as follows:

Brooklyn - Marine Park
Tennis W/F 10 AM Tennis Courts Ave S & East 32 St
Yoga M/W 9AM Nature Center Ave U & East 32 St
Walking M/TH 10AM Nature Center Ave U & East 32 St

Bronx - Van Cortlandt Park
Tennis M/W 10 AM Woodlawn Courts Jerome Ave & E 233 St
Yoga M/W 9 AM Woodlawn Courts Jerome Ave & E 233 St
Walking T/TH 9 AM Woodlawn Courts Jerome Ave & E 233 St

Manhattan - Inwood Hill Park
Tennis T/F 10 AM Tennis Courts W. 207 St. & Seaman Ave.
Yoga T/TH 9 AM Tennis Courts W. 207 St. & Seaman Ave.
Walking M/W 9 AM Tennis Courts W. 207 St. & Seaman Ave.

Queens -
Astoria Park
Tennis T/TH 10 AM Tennis Courts 21 St. & Hoyt Ave. S
Yoga T/TH 9 AM Tennis Courts 21 St. & Hoyt Ave. S
Walking M/W 9 AM Tennis Courts 21 St. & Hoyt Ave. S

Flushing Meadows Corona Park
Tennis M/TH 10 AM Park Tennis Courts Meridian Road
Yoga M/W 9 AM Park Tennis Courts Meridian Road
Walking T/TH 9 AM Park Tennis Courts Meridian Road

Roy Wilkins Park
Tennis T/F 10 AM Tennis Courts Baisley Blvd. & 177th St.
Yoga M/W 9 AM Tennis Courts Baisley Blvd. & 177th St.
Walking M/W 10 AM Tennis Courts Baisley Blvd. & 177th St.

Background: From 2003 through 2005, CPFs Tennis Program for Seniors provided six weeks of free lessons at all skill levels each Fall. Due to the success of this program, CPF launched CityParks Seniors Fitness in 2006, which included and expanded upon the tennis program. The program began in three parks in 2006 and expands to six parks in 2007.

As in all of its programming and activities, City Parks Foundation partners with the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation to improve neighborhood parks and the communities they serve. This program is generously supported by Zwicker Electric, The Tuttle Fund, the New York City Council, and New York State Senator Martin J. Golden.

<![CDATA[Love Blooms In New York City’s Parks]]> dailyplant19787 Though New York City is filled with extraordinary dining and extravagant gifts, our natural settings still reign supreme as romantic spots for Valentine’s Day. In any given park throughout the city, you will often find New Yorkers, dressed in their best, hand-in-hand (or, sometimes, lip-to-lip) with their spouses. Read on for some of New York City’s most romantic spots.


Van Cortlandt Park – Take a leisurely walk around the lake or hike the John Muir Nature Trail in this woodsy paradise.
Wave Hill – Watch the sun set over the Palisades or visit one of the most impressive arboretums in New York City.
Orchard Beach – A romantic walk on the rocky shoreline of Hunter Island will transport you to the coast of Old New England.
Bronx Park – Watch the spectacular waterfall on New York City’s only freshwater river, Bronx River.

Brooklyn Bridge Park – Watch the sun set over Manhattan as the East River glistens before you.
Lullwater Bridge, Prospect Park – The waterfall and boathouse make the perfect setting for romance.
Fulton Park – Stroll through the great trees in this treasured neighborhood park.
Sunset Park – Eagle-eye views of Manhattan, Staten Island, New Jersey, and the Statue of Liberty over the East River and New York Bay will make you feel like you’re on top of the world.

Heather Garden, Fort Tryon Park – This picturesque garden offers spectacular views of the Palisades in all seasons.
The Battery – Take in unparalleled views as seagulls fly, the waves lap, and the sun sets over Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty.
Madison Square Park – Enjoy world-class outdoor art in this historic park right in the heart of Manhattan.
Carl Schurz Park – Cuddle up on the benches behind the grand, Federal-style Gracie Mansion.

Fort Totten Park – Peer across the Long Island Sound through stately Civil War-era structures.
Astoria Park – Stroll the East River waterfront overlooking Roosevelt Island and the awesome Manhattan skyline.
Baisley Pond Park – Sit and relax under the gazebo and gaze out at the fabled gigantic lily pads resting on the pond.
Kissena Park – Weeping willows set the mood around the beautiful lake.

Staten Island:
Alice Austen House – This Victorian garden will transport you to 19th-century romance.
Willowbrook Park – Ride the carousel with your sweetheart and feel like a kid again.
Clove Lakes Park – Row a boat ride on the lake while enjoying the beautiful park.

St. Valentine is considered the patron saint of love and lovers. According to legend, he married lovers in secret when Emperor Claudius outlawed marriage, fearing it made men poor soldiers. While imprisoned for these actions, he sent the first "valentine," a note to his beloved that he signed "from your Valentine."


"If you keep at it, one day something which at first appeared impossible will become merely something very difficult indeed."

Danny Paradise
(born 1943)

<![CDATA[PARKS & RECREATION ANNOUNCES JULY PARK OF THE MONTH]]> pressrelease19573 Astoria Park in Queens is Julys Park of the Month. This 65-acre stretch of athletic paradise in Queens offers astounding views from its perch on the East River. The Triborough Bridge soars over its southern end, while the Hell Gate Bridge spans the north. Dozens of benches hugging the parks perimeter offer perfect spots to take in views of the bridges, boat activity, and New York City skyline.

"Astoria Park is the perfect spot to discover during the summer months," said Parks & Recreation Commissioner Adrian Benepe. "The East River provides spectacular views and cool breezes; the public pool is one of the countrys oldest and grandest; and the possibilities for athletic and recreational endeavors are endless."

Though its best known for its pool, Astoria Park boasts several first-rate athletic facilities, all of which offer extraordinary programs to the public. The outdoor tennis courts host free Pee Wee lessons on Tuesdays and Thursdays during the summer, and track programs for children and early teens take place on Monday and Wednesdays.

Astoria Pool is the citys largest, oldest, and arguably its most storied. It was opened to the public on July 4, 1936, as part of Parks Commissioner Robert Mosess campaign to open 11 new pools that summer with the help of the Works Progress Administration (WPA). Astoria was the first to be built, and served as a model for those to follow. The pool hosted the Olympic trials for swimming and diving in both 1936 and 1964. The two fountains located on the east end of the pool (which now spray water 25 feet in the air) served as Olympic torches during that time.

Today, the pool fosters athletic excellence by hosting a full roster of Learn to Swim programs. It (along with all 33 outdoor intermediate and Olympic-sized pools) offers free swimming instruction to toddlers and children, and team training for the kids five-borough championship. Each morning from 7:00 to 8:30, the outdoor pool is open for adult lap swim only, giving adults the chance to take to the water for health and fitness without interruption from other swimmers.

The pool even holds a Special Populations swimming program for senior citizens and physically challenged individuals. Each Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from July 6 through August 12, the facility is reserved from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. for this enriching program. Co-sponsored by Catholic Charities and Queens Community Board 1, the program offers water exercise classes, swim instruction, water ballet, and other special activities.

Visitors to Astoria Park will also find playgrounds, basketball courts, an athletic field, three baseball diamonds, numerous trails, a wading pool, and a bandstand.

Park of the Month introduces some of our greatest parks and greenspaces to curious New Yorkers and visitors alike. A link to this months highlighted park is available on Parks website,, and the dedicated page includes panoramic and still photos, an interactive map, historical and press information, as well as links to capital projects and inspections.


<![CDATA[THE GROUNDBREAKING SCOOPRunning Circles around the Competition]]> dailyplant19185 The fastest man on earth, Justin Gatlin, said the track in Athens, on which he won the gold medal in the 100-meter dash last month, made him feel like he was "running on air." The New York City Department of Parks & Recreation designs, builds and offers the public running tracks made out of the same material (sometimes even higher caliber material) as those on which Olympic runners compete.

"The upgrade and enhancement of Parks & Recreation track & field facilities is a logical step in making this type of athletic activity more accessible for New York City’s young athletes," said Deputy Commissioner for Public Programs Kevin Jeffrey. "These regional venues reduce travel time for kids and allow for higher-level competitions to be held locally. For example, the First Annual Mayor’s Cup meet was held this past April at the new track in Astoria Park, Queens. Nearly 1,500 young athletes from the City’s public, independent and parochial schools competed."

Outdoors in parks and indoors in recreation centers throughout the city, the Parks & Recreation Capital Projects division is developing elliptical tracks made from prefabricated rubber panels. These panels are manufactured in the controlled environment of a factory, eliminating variables like erratic temperatures that can effect the installation process of a pour-in-place (on-site) rubber crumb system often used to coat tracks. Prefabricated materials cost more, but they guarantee quality, longevity and resiliency. They also require less maintenance than the once popular cinder-surfaced tracks.

To construct these tracks, natural rubber is mixed with pigment and produced in custom-made sheets. Once transported to the site, the sections are laid down like a carpet over a carefully prepared and graded sub-base. Proliferating across the city, these new tracks are smooth and brightly colored with demarcated lanes. The almost imperceptibly bouncy surface minimizes the adverse effects that pounding pavement might otherwise have upon users and puts a slight spring in every runner’s step.

Deputy Team Leader for Bronx Capital Projects Andrew Penzi was the Landscape Architect who designed one such track in Pelham Bay Park. The regulation 400-meter track, just one component of a new track & field facility for New York City’s largest park, replaces a worn out pour-in-place system. The track will wrap around a new synthetic turf football field. Long jump, high jump, pole vault, discus and shot-put facilities are also being built in the vicinity. Construction, which began in February on this $2,505,000 project, is expected to be completed by the end of this month. Funds were allocated by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, Council Member Madeline Provenzano, and a Dormitory Authority Grant.

Also in the Bronx and set to open by the end of September, a shorter course is under construction at Bathgate Park. The inner oval area bounded by the track is being surfaced in the same rubber material as the track itself. Here, under the careful supervision of Resident Engineer Ahamad Baksh, different colored rubber pieces are being cut and installed to form a map of the earth.

Ground in Brooklyn is about to be broken for a new track at Linden Park, and Brooklyn Team Landscape Architect Marcha Johnson is in the process of designing a 400-meter track to replace the existing cinder one at Kaiser Park. At Victory Field in Forest Park, Queens, where the Mayor just cut the ribbon on a brand new synthetic turf baseball field, construction on a new little league field contained inside a track has already begun, and a track for Keith Williams Park is in design. An indoor track, currently under construction at the East 54th Street Recreation Center in Manhattan, will loop around on a gallery above the perimeter of a basketball court below. On the Lower East Side, a new rubber track and synthetic turf field are under construction at Sara D. Roosevelt Park.

Icahn Stadium on Randall’s Island, already in construction, will house the only Class 1 IAAF certified track in the United States. Designed with an asphalt and gravel sub-surface for superior drainage, the level of the track will fluctuate by less than an eighth of an inch over any ten feet of track. Meeting and superceding even-gradation and other requirements qualifies the venue for hosting international competitions, rendering it an eligible candidate to hold the next Summer Olympic trials in 2008. The new stadium will have seating for up to 10,000 spectators, a roof, light towers for night usage, a regulation-size soccer field, locker rooms able to accommodate up to a thousand visiting athletes and training and treatment rooms.

Icahn Stadium will attract world-class events, while also providing a key resource to local communities and schools. The $45 million project is funded by $22.6 million in public funds and the rest by private donations raised by the Randall’s Island Sports Foundation and Parks & Recreation, including a $10 million gift from Carl Icahn. It is scheduled to open in spring 2005.

Written by Adrian Sas


"Life is often compared to a marathon, but I think it is more like being a sprinter; long stretches of hard work punctuated by brief moments in which we
are given the opportunity to perform at our best."

Michael Johnson
(b. 1967)

<![CDATA[MARY PURCELL: SPOTLIGHT ON A PARKS LEGEND]]> dailyplant19074 Reporters knew they would get a shot of Mayor Bloomberg, but they weren’t warned about the woman that would soon steal the spotlight.

On Friday, June 25, in her very first press conference with Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Parks & Recreation Commissioner Adrian Benepe, Chief of Correspondence Mary Purcell told reporters gathered for the citywide pool opening at Astoria Pool in Queens about the 60 years she has spent with Parks & Recreation. Recalling her first days under Commissioner Robert Moses, Mayor Bloomberg presented Mary with a crystal apple, courtesy of Tiffany’s, for her years of service.

Mary’s 15 minutes of fame continued that day as the third floor of the Arsenal was transformed into a celebration in her honor. The lady known for her stash of sweets and zeal for the theater was honored with a timeline of magazine covers, balloons and two cakes with the numerals 6 and 0. Adoring Parkies filled the gallery and listened as she regaled the crowd with stories. Commissioner Benepe joked with Mary, trying to guess her pension benefits, and marveled at the fact that she is the longest-serving City employee. "I couldn’t have lasted this long without people like you working with me," Mary said. "I love to come to work everyday."

Commissioner Benepe and Assistant Commissioner Jack Linn presented Mary with an engraved plaque in the shape of a Parks & Recreation leaf, as well as two vintage photographs of City parks dating back to the 1940s. Candles were then given to those in attendance and blown out all at once. The candles served as a symbol of Mary’s burning devotion to Parks & Recreation.

"Many people don’t live 60 years, let alone stay at the same job 60 years," said Benepe. "We are all so happy to be here to share this with such a wonderful person."

The Parks & Recreation Mary Purcell Era began in 1944, the same year America watched Franklin D. Roosevelt take office and the U.S. invade Normandy. Mary began her career on June 26, working as a Summer Playground Assistant for St. Gabriel’s Park. The only active Parkie to work under both Robert Moses and Henry J. Stern, Mary climbed her way up the ranks of Recreation, Administration and Operations, serving in a number of positions.

Holding the honor of being the first woman to serve as a Parks & Recreation Manager (PRM), Mary’s enthusiasm for the agency didn’t get in the way of her love for the theater. In 1979 and 1987, respectively, she earned her B.A. and M.A. in theater from Hunter College. Mary continued to follow her passion, pursuing her Ph.D. in theater at Yale.

Since August 1981, Mary has served as Chief of Correspondence, where she ensures that thousands of letters are answered in an efficient, timely fashion. She has also helped appoint more than 10,000 friends of Parks.

Mary’s role at Parks & Recreation, however, extends far past the duties listed on paper. "She is a major help," said Bobby Schiavone, who was hired by Mary 15 years ago and now serves as Supervisor of Parks Maintenance and Operations for the Arsenal and Zoo Garage. "She is always asking what more she can do."

Mary has and will continue to bask in the spotlight as she continues her reign at Parks & Recreation. For all of her efforts, Parkies extend their thanks and admiration to the woman who is truly a living legend.

Written by Melissa Kuhn


"People think that if a man has undergone any hardship, he should have a reward; but for my part, if I have done the hardest possible day’s work, and then come to sit down in a corner and eat my supper comfortably—why, then I don’t think I deserve any reward for my hard day’s work—for am I not now at peace? Is not my supper good?"

Herman Melville

<![CDATA[SPECIAL RECOGNITION FOR SIX OUTSTANDING PARKIES]]> dailyplant18951 On Monday, May 3, Parks & Recreation singled out six employees for their remarkable work during the month of April. The honorees were as follows:

Christopher Clouden is the Commissioner’s Employee of the Month. Chris is the Manhattan Chief of Recreation and has been with Parks & Recreation since August 5, 1996. For many years, Chris has led the largest borough’s recreation program. Now, he also spearheads some of our most exciting and important projects. Chris has overseen opening preparations for the $20 million renovation of the Chelsea Recreation Center, which is now ready to burst with activity. The depth and quality of the center’s amenities, including state-of-the-art exercise equipment, six floors of activity space, and a new indoor swimming pool, will make it one of Parks & Recreation’s premier recreation centers. Chris was also instrumental in organizing the successful Mayor’s Cup Track & Field Championship Meet on April 16 and 17, which brought together over 2,100 young athletes from each of the five boroughs. This historic event in Astoria Park was the first time that New York City’s public, parochial, and independent schools competed with each other in one contest. It will serve as a model for programs to come. One of Parks & Recreation’s most capable and effective managers, Chris continues to deliver at the highest level for the agency and, most importantly, for the youth of New York City. He was nominated by Deputy Commissioner for Public Programs Kevin Jeffrey.

Renata A. Sokolowski is the Capital Projects Employee of the Month. Renata A. Sokolowski is a Landscape Architect on the Staten Island Team and has been with Parks & Recreation since July 18, 1994. Renata joined Parks from the private firm Thomas Balsley Associates, where she worked on residential design. She quickly made an impact here with her talents for elegant designs, advanced computer programs, and 3D models constructed with wood, cardboard, clay, steel wire, and fabric. Renata’s outstanding designs include the $8.5 million Union Square Park project, the $2 million Canal Park project, and the $7.4 million project at Fairview Park. Renata brings a calm and positive demeanor to her projects and helps keep her team focused and productive. For her nearly ten years of skilled service to Parks & Recreation, Renata was nominated by Team Leader Michael Browne and Assistant Commissioner for Capital Projects Nancy Barthold.

Spencer T Tucker is the Management Employee of the Month. Spencer is a Photographer for Parks & Recreation and has been with the department since January 22, 2001. Spencer is a ubiquitous presence at Parks events, helping to capture them for eternity with his keen eye, insight, and sense of humor. His pictures of park scenes are prominent in The Daily Plant, Parks & Recreation’s Biennial Report, and in all our distributions. Last year, Spencer’s unique vision of parks was unveiled in a popular Arsenal Gallery exhibit showing the many faces of life and youth in City parks. Hard working, intelligent, and gifted, Spencer was nominated by Director of Public Information Megan Sheekey.

Milton Turner is an Operations Employee of the Month. Milton is an Associate Park Service Worker Crew Chief in Wolfe’s Pond Park, in Staten Island’s District 3. Milton began with Parks & Recreation seasonally in the 1960s and returned full-time on November 3, 1986. Milton began his career with Shops in Brooklyn’s District 12. He has since transferred to Wolfe’s Pond Park as Crew Chief, earning responsibility for all of its properties, developed and undeveloped. Thanks to his efforts and the work of his Parks Opportunity Program crews, District 3 achieved 94% overall and 95% cleanliness ratings in 2003. He has also recently taken on major clean-up efforts of undeveloped or neglected park areas. Experienced and dedicated, Milton works hard to impart his work ethic and professionalism to his staff. A stalwart of Parks operations, Milton was nominated by Supervisor of Parks Maintenance and Operations Robert Parella.

Timothy A. Brown is an Operations Employee of the Month. Tim is an Assistant Gardener in Fort Tryon Park in Manhattan and has been with Parks & Recreation since April 23, 2001. Tim works primarily at the Heather Garden, as well as in other parts of Fort Tryon Park and District 12. For the past two years, Tim has been responsible for the planting and care of the woodlands adjacent to the Heather Garden. Tim hauls 400 feet of hose back and forth to ensure the plants are watered in the hot summers. He has pounded hundreds of posts and installed thousands of feet of fencing to protect the annuals, bulbs, trees, and shrubs he has planted throughout Northern Manhattan. He has scaled walls and rockfaces to remove poison ivy and other invasive plants. Tim also mows, weedwacks, and sprays herbicides throughout the sector, while leading countless volunteer groups at Inwood, Isham, Highbridge, and Gorman Parks with his inspiring energy. When not leading our greening efforts, Tim hits the books and is working on a dissertation in comparative religion at Syracuse University. A key part of our horticultural renaissance, Tim was nominated by Director of North Manhattan Parks Jane Schachat.

Christopher M. Davis is Public Programs’ Employee of the Month. Chris is a Special Projects Coordinator for Manhattan Recreation and has been with Parks & Recreation since November 28, 2000. Chris sports many hats for Recreation. He compiles each year’s annual report, secures staff for citywide special events, including Experience Spring, and helps coordinate the staffing, schedules, and budget for summer day camps. Chris is the Playground Associate Coordinator for the borough and has also served as a Pool Supervisor, helping Jackie Robinson Pool sail through a busy and safe 2003 season. Chris shows off his sporting knowledge by spearheading a baseball program in Manhattan, coaching a team of 13- and 14- year-olds in Brooklyn’s 3B League, and running Turn 2 clinics and workouts. Chris also went beyond the call of duty during the 2003 blackout by ensuring the safe evacuation of patrons, responding to a fire, and getting the pool pumps running by 7:30 a.m. the next day. Talented and driven, Chris was nominated by Chief of Manhattan Recreation Chris Clouden.


"I am becoming sick and tired about lying."

Walter ven der Vijver
Former CEO of Royal Dutch/Shell

<![CDATA[STARS OF TRACK & FIELD SHINE BRIGHTLY IN MAYOR’S CUP]]> dailyplant18904 On April 16 and 17, over 2,100 young athletes from 131 New York City public, parochial, and independent schools competed in an historic outdoor citywide track & field competition. The Mayor’s Cup Track & Field Championship Meet, spearheaded by the Public School Athletic League (PSAL), was held in Astoria Park, Queens. During the two-day meet, athletes in both boys and girls divisions leaped over hurdles, high jumped and pole vaulted, ran the steeplechase, hurled discuses, and engaged in myriad other challenges, including runs, relays, and dashes. After strong competition, Harry S. Truman High School from the Bronx finished first overall in the boys division, and Monsignor Farrell High School from Staten Island finished first among girls teams.

"Bringing together hundreds of top young athletes from around the city for healthy competition goes hand-in-hand with Parks & Recreation’s commitment to providing first class spaces for recreational activities," said Parks & Recreation Commissioner Adrian Benepe. "City athletes competed on our recently renovated Astoria track & field complex to see who is New York’s fastest, strongest, and ‘bounciest.’"

After Friday afternoon’s events, New York City Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein and Commissioner Benepe handed out awards to top finishers in several boys and girls competitions, and Commissioner Benepe returned on Saturday to hand out a few more. The top six finishers in each race received long-sleeve T-shirts and medals. The first-place finishers received awards provided by the New York City Sports Commission.

"New York City has continuously been the stage on which so many wonderful track & field athletes compete and strive to achieve their Olympic dreams, including such greats as Bob Beamon, Diane Dixon, and John Carlos," said Sports Commissioner Kenneth Podziba. "We are delighted to provide this opportunity for our Olympians of tomorrow to pursue their dreams."

Track & Field Olympians who have attended New York City high schools include Bob Beamon, Kenneth Bantum, Diane Dixon, Cheryl Toussaint, John Carlos, Reggie Pearman, Marty Glickman, Irv Mondschein, Vince Matthews, Abel Kiviat, Bill Jankunis, Matt Centrowitz, Meredith Rainey, and Meredith Gourdine.

For more than 100 years, New York City has been a center for track & field—home to the Millrose Games, the nation’s oldest indoor track & field meet, the New York City Marathon, and, most recently, the National Track & Field Hall of Fame at the New Balance Track & Field Center. New York City’s track & field history also includes the 1936 Olympic trials, held on Randall’s Island, in which Jesse Owens began his journey into Olympic history.

Located under the Triborough Bridge, Astoria Park’s track was rebuilt in July 2000 and was recently supplied with 90 new hurdles, equipment for pole vault, discus, and shot put, and other necessary track & field equipment by Parks & Recreation and PSAL with funding from Snapple. The program has been supported by Parks & Recreation and PSAL in cooperation with the Sports Commission. The Catholic High School Athletic Association and the Association of Independent Schools offered additional organizational support.

Written by Eric Adolfsen


"Home is not where you live but where they understand you."

Christion Morgenstern

<![CDATA[RANGERS AND COMMUNITY RESIDENTS SAY: ASTORIA PARK’S A GOOD PLACE TO PLAY]]> dailyplant10425 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)