NYC Parks News for Highland Park copyright © 2016 NYC Department of Parks and Recreation NYC Department of Parks & Recreation en-us Tue, 24 May 2016 06:06:48 GMT NYC Parks News 25 25 <![CDATA[Snow Day! Parks Hosts Fun, Free Winter Snow Activities For Youth]]> pressrelease20968 2016-05-24T02:06:48-04:00 <![CDATA[Queens Parks Administrator Honored by Highland Park Organization]]> pressrelease20422 2016-05-24T02:06:48-04:00 <![CDATA[Forest and Highland Parks Salute Top Volunteers]]> dailyplant19788 More than 100 Parkies, volunteers, and friends of Queens parks gathered at Oak Ridge in Forest Park on Friday, February 3rd to bask in the glow of good deeds. The Annual Volunteer Thank You for Forest and Highland Parks included games, balloon creations by Nick the Balloonatick, food, and root beer floats. First Deputy Commissioner Liam Kavanagh and Queens Borough Commissioner Dorothy Lewandowski hosted and presented the awards to the parks’ outstanding helpers.

Ron Niles, president of K-9 Korral, Forest Park’s dog run association, was one of the evening’s honored guests. Ron has been committed to the success of the dog run since its inception in 2002, organizing more than 300 members who assist with maintenance and programming. He put together such events as the dog Halloween costume contests, photos with Santa, training sessions, and flower box contests. Whether he’s organizing a doggie Easter bonnet contest, geting local businesses to donate prizes, or rescuing stray and abandoned dogs, Ron has been a wonderful asset to Forest Park and the canine community.

Dennis and Nancy Moore were the ceremony’s other honored guests. In 1990, the Moores assisted in the initial revitalization of the 101 year-old Highland Park Children’s Garden by working with the NYC Board of Education, the Civilian Conservation Corps, and college students. In the mid-1990’s, volunteers had virtually disappeared, and the Moores decided to tackle the task as the garden’s Volunteer Coordinators.

Slowly, they began to recruit others, reaching out to local daycare centers and schools who were interested in using the garden as a learning center. Today, local schools and residents maintain 16 garden plots. Last year, Dennis and Nancy spearheaded the Garden’s 100th Anniversary Celebration, and were honored at the Queens Coalition for Parks & Green Spaces with the Emerald Award for their 29 years of combined community service.


"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing."

Edmund Burke
(1729 –1797)

<![CDATA[HIGHLAND PARK SPRINGS INTO FALL]]> dailyplant19704 After eight straight days of rain, Highland Park celebrated the season by holding its first ever Jack-o-Lantern Jamboree on Saturday, October 15. Hundreds of children emerged from their homes to enjoy the 70-degree weather and countless free activities, including games, face painting, arts & crafts, a DJ, a pumpkin patch, and a balloon show performed by Goowins Ballowins. McGruff the Crime Dog offered crime prevention information and posed for pictures. Inquisitive youngsters dissected owl pellets under the guidance of the Queens Urban Park Rangers.

The children also helped plant 1,400 daffodil bulbs along the park’s perimeter fence line on Jamaica Avenue. The administrative staff of Forest and Highland Parks organized the event, with Volunteer Coordinator Margaret Rosas spearheading the festivities. The event wouldn’t have been possible without volunteers from the Schwartz Police Athletic League, Twelve Towns YMCA, William H. Maxwell, John Jay College’s Lambda Theta Phi Fraternity, and the IS 347/349 Beacon Program.



On that same beautiful day, Parks & Recreation Commissioner Adrian Benepe joined Council Member Robert Jackson, City Parks Foundation (CPF) Executive Director David Rivel, Partnerships for Parks Director Jason Schwartz, Starbucks New York Metro Marketing Manager Sherry Thurmon, and more than 70 volunteers at Jackie Robinson Park to lend a hand in cleaning and planting projects during "It’s My Park!" Day. Participants enjoyed free coffee from corporate sponsor Starbucks and uplifting tunes from radio sponsor WBLS.

More than 5,000 volunteers came out to more than 200 projects in all five boroughs for "It’s My Park!" Day, including 39 in the Bronx, 31 in Brooklyn, 57 in Manhattan, 77 in Queens, and 17 in Staten Island. These sites were alive with volunteers participating in cleaning and restoration projects organized by local community groups, corporate partners, Parks & Recreation, and City Parks Foundation staff.

According to reports from Partnerships staff, communities bonded at several sites. In Highbridge Park in Upper Manhattan, community members and children raised about $400 for Hurricane Katrina victims. At Breininger Park in Queens, a tree was planted for a recently deceased community member. His family, who now lives in New Jersey, told other volunteers that they still consider Breininger to be "their" park.

Back at Jackie Robinson Park, Partnerships’ Volunteer Events Manager Eileen Remor helped a group of young children how to plant mums.

"While digging in the dirt, one little boy said, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if we found treasure?’" Remor recalled. "I love that kids who grow up in the city get to have those experiences on ‘It’s My Park!’ Day."


"To find joy in work is to discover the fountain of youth."

Pearl S. Buck


<![CDATA[CONGRATULATIONS EMPLOYEES OF THE MONTH]]> dailyplant18114 The following employees were awarded Employee of the Month for August during a ceremony on Monday, September 8.

The Commissioner’s Employee of the Month is Hesham A. Elshamy of Capital Projects. Hesham is a Resident Engineer on the Staten Island Capital Team and has been with Parks & Recreation since September 30, 1990. Hesham transferred from Brooklyn in 1997. An Engineering graduate of Alexandria University in Egypt, Hesham uses his superior technical skills to oversee construction contractors: ensuring quality work, solving problems, and keeping projects on time, all while maintaining a sense of humor. He has worked on some major Parks initiatives for Staten Island. These include the $2 million Oakwood Beach Shoreline Protection, a ¾ mile project which entailed building a series of bulkheads and berms to prevent flooding of nearby homes, and the $6 million project to brace and stabilize a sinking Cromwell Recreation Center. An avid fisherman himself, Hesham is currently working on the $6 million Midland Beach Pier. Calm, cool and attentive to detail, Hesham was nominated by Borough Commissioner Tom Paulo and Deputy Commissioner Freitag.

Shirley E. Kindler-Penzi is the Capital Projects Employee of the Month. Shirley began with Parks on October 15, 1997 and is the Deputy Team Leader for the Queens Team. Promoted this summer, Shirley was previously a Construction Project Manager at Capital Projects. Since coming to the Queens Team, she has worked hard to make the new team organization successful and to monitor borough projects closely. Shirley has also spearheaded the successful transition of computer systems to Auto CAD, while developing a new system for reviewing the quality of consultant fee proposals which has facilitated the consultant selection process. As a Construction Project Manager specializing in design, Shirley completed various synthetic and natural turf athletic fields, such as the $4.41 million Flushing Meadow soccer fields, the $1 million Raymond O’Connor Field, and the $1.58 million Victory Field. Efficient and thorough, Shirley was nominated by Assistant Commissioner Nancy Barthold.

Kerrianne Biele is Management’s Employee of the Month. Kerrianne is an Analyst in the Budget Unit and has been with Parks & Recreation since January 8, 2001. One of Kerrianne’s major responsibilities is tracking our $63 million Revenue Budget. She helps monitor how well we are keeping to our ambitious revenue targets, and coordinates reporting on revenue to the Comptroller and OMB. Recently, Kerrianne played a key role in the successful transition to a new fee structure at our 29 Recreation Centers citywide. She helped reconcile membership revenue and fiduciary accounts totaling $22 million, while training staff at the Recreation Centers on the new financial guidelines. A dedicated and responsible member of Budget, Kerrianne also volunteers as a co-curator at the Merchant House Museum. Kerrianne was nominated by Chief Fiscal Officer David Stark and Revenue Supervisor Audrey Nagle

Jose Lebron is an Operations Employee of the Month. Jose began with Parks & Recreation on October 5, 1987 and works as a Maintenance Worker in Brooklyn District 3. He performs various types of repairs to equipment at properties such as Saratoga Square and Fulton Park. Jose is adept at making the best use of the materials and resources available to him. He can fabricate materials if needed to complete a job, which relieves the demand on Shops personnel. Jose has strong attendance and driving records, and helped the district achieve 98% ratings for structural features in FY03. Respected for both his skill and enthusiasm, Jose was nominated by Supervisor Carl Snipe.

Joseph Drago is an Operations Employee of the Month. Joe is a CPW in Queens and began with Parks & Recreation on March 12, 2001. Joe started as a seasonal in District 5, which includes Juniper Valley Park, Highland Park, and Pinocchio Playground. He joined Parks on a full-time basis in 2002. Currently, Joe is a step-up APSW. His varied days include operating 16 yard packers, mowing lawns, working with mobile cleaning crews, repairing small equipment, and addressing PIP ratings concerns. District 5 achieved a 90% cleanliness rating in FY03. Joe is a flexible and can-do new Parkie who has gone the extra mile in Queens. Joe was nominated by PRM Cheryl Reiter.

Michael Popo is Public Programs’ Employee of the Month. Michael is a Recreation Specialist at St. John’s Recreation Center and has been with Parks & Recreation since May 24, 2002. Michael spearheads the Crown Heights Live computer center at St. John’s Recreation Center. This innovative program offers teenagers the opportunity to learn website development as well as digital video production. Working together in their local neighborhoods, these young men and women do interviews, explore important issues, and gain useful technical skills. Michael and Crown Heights Live are so popular that teenagers often do not want to leave when the Center shuts after 10pm at night. Through the computer center, Michael has involved himself in many aspects of St. John’s as well as the neighborhood. For his positive impact on the youth of Brooklyn, Michael was nominated by Center Manager Karen Gripper and Deputy Commissioner Kevin Jeffrey.

It is a wise father that knows his own child.
The Merchant of Venice, II, ii, 83
William Shakespeare

<![CDATA[SPOTLIGHT ON: TREMONT PARK]]> dailyplant16477 Tremont Park is named for the neighborhood in which it resides. This area was known as Upper Morrisania until the 1850s, when local postmaster Hiram Tarbox realized his mail was getting mixed up with that of nearby Morrisania. Legend has it that he renamed the town "Tremont" for the three nearby hills—Fairmount, Mount Eden and Mount Hope.

The park was once named Old Borough Hall Park because Borough Hall stood on this property. George B. Post (1837-1913) designed Bronx Borough Hall with yellow brick and brown terra-cotta trim. Post’s most famous accomplishments include the New York Stock Exchange and the now demolished Western Union Building, which stood at Broadway and Dey Street in Manhattan. Bronx Borough Hall was completed in 1897, and Louis F. Haffen, the first Bronx Borough President, was inaugurated in a second floor office in 1898. (A park named for Haffen is located on the blocks between Burke, Ely, Hammersley, and Gunther Avenues.) In 1899, a grand stairway was constructed along the steep slope down to Third Avenue, connecting Borough Hall to the bustling Bronx.

After World War I, Victory Park, a formal garden with paths radiating from a large circular fountain, was created near Borough Hall to celebrate the Allied victory over Germany. Borough Hall served as the borough’s administrative headquarters until a new Bronx administration building was constructed along the Grand Concourse near Yankee Stadium in 1935. Government services gradually left the old Borough Hall, and by 1964, the only office left in the building was a marriage license bureau. Despite efforts by the Bronx County Historical Society and others to renovate the hall for civic use, the building was deemed structurally unsafe and demolished on January 12, 1969.

Bounded by Third, East Tremont, and Arthur Avenues, and the Cross-Bronx Expressway, was once part of nearby Crotona Park, the largest park in the South Bronx and the sixth largest in the borough. The City of New York acquired the property for Crotona Park from the Andrew Bathgate estate as part of the consolidation of the Bronx park system in 1888. Known at the time as "Bathgate Woods," the park was already famous for its views, its trees, and its pond. Although the city planned to name the park for the Bathgates, a dispute with the family led a Parks engineer to name it after Croton, an ancient Greek colony famed for its Olympic athletes.

Crotona Park once encompassed 155 acres (today it covers 127.5 acres), including this site and Victory Park. In 1945, the construction of the Cross-Bronx Expressway separated this 15 acre site from Crotona Park and swallowed up several acres for the highway project. This section continued to be called Crotona Park from 1945 until 1987, when Parks named it Highland Park. In February 1999 Commissioner Stern renamed it Tremont Park.

The Park underwent extensive renovations in 1995 made possible by $585,000 in funding from Council Member Jose Rivera. These renovations included the addition of new chess and checkers game tables, spray showers, basketball courts, a baseball diamond, and many trees. Parks is currently working on a restoration of the deteriorated grand stairway.


This Saturday, April 19, the lower 40 acres of Manhattan’s Central Park will be filled with excited New Yorkers for the annual rite of spring Easter Eggstravaganza. It is the 57th annual Easter Eggstravaganza and is sponsored by Starburst Jelly Beans. The event, running from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. is free and open to the public. It features the City’s largest egg hunt at Bethesda Terrace, egg dyeing, and egg-on-spoon races. There will be a petting zoo, a greenmarket, and in-line skating. Live bands and a cappella groups will entertain at the Naumberg Bandshall. For children, there will be a storytelling and walkabouts characters. For some creative fun, there will be a build-you-own-basket station, tissue paper flower making, and face painting. New Yorkers can enter the park at 72nd Street to enjoy this great free event. Other sponsors include Western Union, New York Presbyterian Hospital, Pay-O-Matic, Cyberchase, Discovery Kids, Columbia Pictures’ Daddy Day Care, Ty, and PAAS. For more information, please call 311.


"My candle burns at both ends;
It will not last the night;
But, ah, my foes, and, oh, my friends--
It gives a lovely light."

Edna St. Vincent Millay