NYC Parks News for Kissena Park copyright © 2016 NYC Department of Parks and Recreation NYC Department of Parks & Recreation en-us Tue, 31 May 2016 06:00:30 GMT NYC Parks News 25 25 <![CDATA["New York City Of Trees Photographs By Benjamin Swett" On View In The Arsenal Gallery]]> dailyplant22858 The photography exhibition New York City of Trees by Benjamin Swett today opened to the public at the Arsenal Gallery. Twenty-eight color portraits of trees around the five boroughs take the viewer up close to some of the extraordinary species that grow along the streets and in the parks, cemeteries, gardens, and backyards of the city. On view at the Arsenal Gallery from March 6 through April 26 (Arbor Day and Frederick Law Olmsteds birthday), the images were selected from Swetts forthcoming book New York City of Trees, to be released today by the Quantuck Lane Press.

After working at Parks for thirteen years, Swett left in 2001 to pursue a career as a freelance photographer but continued to photograph New York Citys urban forest, fascinated by the connections between trees and the citys history. We know that trees improve living conditions in cities by filtering and cooling the air, absorbing excess rainwater, and making neighborhoods more attractive, writes Swett. But little has been said about the importance of trees as keepers of a citys past. The aim in taking these picturesaside from taking the best photographs I couldwas to try to bring back into focus an aspect of the city that most people tend to take for granted until something happens to it. The idea has been to remind New Yorkers how much of their own lives and the lives of neighbors these trees quietly contain.

Among the trees photographed in this exhibition is an Osage Orange found at the Olmsted-Beil House in Staten Island, one of few remaining trees that Frederick Law Olmsted, of Central Park fame, planted before he moved to Manhattan in 1859 when he was experimenting with the relationship of plants to the land. In another image, an American elm overlooks Harlem River Drive and the landmarked High Bridgelikely the stalwart from a row of newly planted 3-inch elms included on a park map from 1934 when Parks Commissioner Robert Moses renovated the Speedway. Swett documents a lopsided Silver Linden in Prospect Park on a rainy afternoon in October. Lindens became one of the most popular planting trees in New York parks since they offered a shaded respite from the suns heat in the years before air conditioning.

Benjamin Swett is a New York-based photographer with a particular interest in combining photographs with text. His books include New York City of Trees (2013), The Hudson Valley: A Cultural Guide (2009), Route 22 (2007), and Great Trees of New York City: A Guide (2000). The former director of the Parks in Print program here at NYC Parks, Mr. Swett produced more than 40 illustrated books, brochures and annual reports during 13 years at the Parks Department and the City Parks Foundation. He teaches photography at Wave Hill, the public garden and cultural center in the Bronx, and lives in Manhattan with his wife and sons.

This project was partially funded through a grant from Furthermore: a program of the J.M. Kaplan Fund, with additional support from the City Parks Foundation.

The Arsenal Gallery is dedicated to examining themes of nature, urban space, wildlife, New York City parks, and park history. It is located on the third floor of the NYC Parks & Recreation headquarters, in Central Park, on Fifth Avenue at 64th Street. Gallery hours are Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. except for holidays. Admission is free. For more information, visit or call 212-360-8163.


If you want your life to be more rewarding, you have to change the way you think.

Oprah Winfrey
(1954 - )

<![CDATA[Bank Of America Partnership Funds Three Urban Forest Protection Projects]]> dailyplant22330 2016-05-31T02:00:30-04:00 <![CDATA[A Queens Park Remembers The Forgotten War]]> pressrelease19951 Commissioner Adrian Benepe today joined Council Member John Liu, Korean War Veterans Memorial Association President Andrew Musumeci, Korean War veterans, and numerous elected officials and community members to unveil the Korean War Veterans Memorial in Kissena Park. The commemorative and reflective memorial plaza and sculpture honors the forgotten heroes of the Korean War and the 1953 cease-fire that ended military engagement on the divided Korean Peninsula.

"Monuments are created to remind us of the people and events that should never be forgotten," said Commissioner Benepe. "The Korean War has sometimes been a forgotten piece of history but, thanks to Council Member Liu, the Korean War Veterans Memorial Association and all involved, the Korean War Veterans Memorial in Kissena Park will now serve as a daily reminder of the war and those who fought in it. We are pleased to provide a home for this important memorial and hope it will serve as a tribute to this conflict and inspire appreciation for the men and women who served-and died-for our country."

"After many years of tirelessly coordinated efforts, this important memorial has been completed. It will be a reminder for people of many generations to come to always remember 'The Forgotten War,'" said Council Member Liu. "This memorial will surely become a focal point in our community where people will gather to reflect on the truism that freedom is not free."

"I'm very happy and delighted to have this memorial erected and constructed in memory of those who died in Korea-several were good friends of mine-and for all the men who survived the Korean War," said Korean War Veterans Memorial Association President Andrew Musumeci.

The site in Flushing, home to the city's largest Korean population, and near the historic Kissena Grove, serves as an ideal location for this commemorative site. The bronze sculpture, by artist William Crozier and entitled The Anguish of Experience, consists of a larger-than-life solitary soldier, whose face portrays the anguish of war. On a smaller scale behind him are the silhouettes of five soldiers carrying a stretcher and scaling the dangerous mountain terrain of Korea where many battles were fought. The 16.5-foot long, 12-foot high and 10-foot wide sculpture is placed in a plaza adjacent to a flagpole. The plaza surrounding the memorial has two types of granite paving stones that are laid in an asymmetric pattern symbolic of the rice fields of Korea. Prairie grass, which is native across the U.S., grows at the base of the sculpture and represents the soldier's return home. Behind the memorial area is a new curved walkway that leads to a quiet, shaded area under a Beech tree. Inscribed are also the names of the 172 Queens natives who lost their lives during the war, as well as the individuals and groups that supported the project.

Council Member Liu and the Korean War Veterans Memorial Association were instrumental in raising the necessary funding and coordinating the design and site selection. The construction of the plaza was funded with a $430,000 allocation from Council Member Liu, $212,000 from Mayor Bloomberg and $50,000 from Queens Borough President Helen Marshall. The sculpture was made possible by $153,000 from the South Korean government, $50,000 from the State, and $166,000 in private donations.

Between June 25, 1950 and July 27, 1953, conflict raged after North Korea, backed by the Soviet Union, invaded South Korea, a United States ally. Sandwiched between World War II and the controversial Vietnam War, it often receives less attention and has become known as the Forgotten War. However 1.8 million Americans served in the Korean War and more than 36,000 died.

Throughout the city, more than 1,200 monuments in public parks, plazas and traffic triangles serve as a daily reminder of the people and events that have helped to shape the city, the nation and the world. While several monuments throughout the city are dedicated to all veterans, one in Manhattan's Battery Park is dedicated to all New Yorkers who lost their lives in the Korean War and one in Brooklyn's Columbus Park is dedicated to those from Brooklyn who lost their lives in the Korean War.

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<![CDATA[The Historic Kissena Park Grove Gets A Trim For Spring]]> pressrelease19871 Just in time for their spring buds to form, more than 160 trees in and around the Kissena Park Historic Grove have been pruned. Although trees throughout the grove have been periodically pruned, this the first large-scale pruning of the whole grove. The pruning removed any deadwood or damaged branches and was done in a way that leaves the trees natural form intact.

"Flushing has many claims to fame, including its history as the site of some of the first commercial nurseries," said Queens Borough Commissioner Dorothy Lewandowski. "Kissena Park is home to the remnants of one of these flourishing nurseriesthe Parsons and Company nursery. We are thankful to New York Hospital Queens for providing this pruning service, which will help maintain the health of these treespart of the Citys living history."

New York Hospital Queens paid for this $65,000 in-kind service as part of their temporary-use agreement for parking while the hospital is under construction. Valley Tree Service completed the pruning in and around the 14-acre grove on March 16, 2007. Eighty-two of the trees are historic trees from the 19th century nursery.

More than 100 varieties of trees thrive in the Historic Grove, located in the northern part of the park at Rose Avenue and Parsons Boulevardmany of them mature exotic specimens. The rarest include a Persian parrotia (Parrotica persica) of Iran, Chinese toon (Cedrela sinensis), and castor-aralia (Kalopanax pictus) of Japan, China, and Siberia. One of the most noticeable and interesting trees in the Grove is the katsura (Cercidiphyllum japonicum) of Asia, which may appear to be one tree with many stems shooting from the ground. In fact, these trees were planted in a row as part of the nursery stock and now have fused together creating the illusion of a single tree.

Following the death of the eldest Parsons in 1906, the City acquired the property as parkland. All but 14 acres of the nursery stock were removed during the initial construction of Kissena Park. The site of the grove was rediscovered in 1981 by Parks horticulturist Shelly Stiles and her interns. Their goal was to clean up a two-acre area that had become overgrown. They were surprised to discover the remnants of the old Parsons nursery.

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<![CDATA[THE GROUNDBREAKING SCOOP]]> dailyplant19246 2016-05-31T02:00:30-04:00 <![CDATA[THE KISSENA VELODROME KISSES DECADES OF DISREPAIR GOODBYE]]> dailyplant18908 If you build it, they will ride. Known in the cycling community as the "track of dreams," the Kissena Velodrome re-opened on Wednesday, April 21 in Flushing, Queens after a nearly two-year hiatus. Teams of cyclists decked out in helmets and cycling gear joined Parks & Recreation Commissioner Adrian Benepe, Cycling Olympian Deirdre Murphy (Ireland, 2000), Council Member John Liu, and Director of Kissena Velodrome John Campo for an inaugural lap around the only public cycling race track in the northeast. At the 1964 Olympic Trials at the Velodrome, Kissena racers dominated the race, taking five of eight places on the U.S. squad. Parks & Recreation hopes the reconstruction of this historic track will draw top-level cycling back to New York City.

"The new Kissena Velodrome will give all New Yorkers a premiere 400-meter cycling track," said Commissioner Benepe. "Thanks to Mayor Bloomberg and the support of the cycling community, the Velodrome will inspire our City’s athletes to strive to be their best, including becoming Olympians."

The Mayor allocated over $500,000 to Parks & Recreation to renovate the track, located on Booth Memorial Avenue at Parsons Boulevard. Cyclists of all ages will now compete on new asphalt pavement finished with a special acrylic seal coat. Parks & Recreation’s Peter Beeton designed the renovated track, and Resident Engineer Wayne Farquharson oversaw the construction. Michael Hubartt and Jonel Vukan, from Parks & Recreation’s Capital Division, helped to supervise the project that began in late September of 2002. New landscaping and trees, along with bleachers, a custom-designed perimeter fence, regulation racing lines, and new drainage have transformed the Kissena Velodrome from a patchwork, bumpy track into a sleek, state-of the-art cycling facility.

On Wednesday, cycling Olympian Jack Simes (1960, 1964, 1968) and NYC Sports Commissioner Kenneth J. Podziba joined NYC2012 and the Kissena Velodrome Committee, along with youth from P.S. 178 and Queens’ recreation centers to celebrate the revitalization of the Velodrome. Parks & Recreation is collaborating with NYC2012 to launch a youth cycling development program at the Velodrome called Star Track. Olympian Deirdre Murphy will oversee the program, which will instruct pre-teens from Parks & Recreation’s afterschool programs in this unique sport. The pilot program will start this spring.

"As a life-long New Yorker and Olympian who raced at the Kissena Velodrome a decade ago, it’s great to be part of the Velodrome’s transformation," said Murphy. "I'm thrilled to partner with Parks & Recreation and NYC2012 to lead this groundbreaking program that will introduce young people to the principles of bicycle racing and team work."

Racers took to the new track for the first weekend of competition on Saturday, April 24 and Sunday, April 25. The Kissena Cycling Club, in cooperation with Parks & Recreation, The Kissena Velodrome Committee, Animal NYC (a marketing firm), and NYC2012 hosted the day of racing for adults and "pee wees."

The Kissena Velodrome Committee has been instrumental in helping to support the Velodrome. Members of the committee include Jon Kamen, John Campo, Don Winston and Eric Ragot. The Velodrome has received private support from the family of Jon Kamen and the J.M. Kaplan Fund.

Robert Moses built the Kissena Velodrome in 1962, and the race track was showcased during the 1964 World’s Fair. The Siegfried Stern Kissena Park Bicycle Track was named for Siegfried Stern, treasurer for Hartz Mountain Products and benefactor of many Jewish organizations. The Kissena Velodrome has produced many Olympians and world-class cyclists.

Experienced cyclists fearlessly maneuvered the sloping corners at top speed last week, demonstrating that the Kissena Velodrome is well on its way to reclaiming its historic cycling glory. As New York State champion bike racer John Campo remarked, "This is just the beginning."

For directions to the Kissena Velodrome, please visit the Parks & Recreation web site at

Written by Jocelyn Aframe


"The one thing that doesn't abide by
majority rule is a person's conscience."

Harper Lee
(b. 1926 )

<![CDATA[CLOSE CALL: DISASTER NARROWLY AVERTED IN QUEENS PARK]]> dailyplant18899 On Friday, April 6, as the work day wound to a close, fire erupted next to the newly-renovated Kissena Velodrome on Parsons Boulevard and Booth Memorial Avenue in Flushing, Queens. Fortunately, a combination of volunteers, firefighters, and sheer luck prevented the fire from harming anyone or damaging the Velodrome. With work on the Velodrome just recently completed and its April 21 ribbon cutting only two weeks away, the fire could have proven disastrous.

The fire covered an area approximately 300 by 500 feet (about three acres), only 50 or so feet away from the fence surrounding the track. Upon discovery of the fire at about 4:45 p.m., the fire department and the park manager were promptly called to the scene. More than 60 firefighters fought the blaze, bringing it under control within an hour. Had the wind been blowing towards the Velodrome, rather than in the opposite direction, parts of the new vinyl fence would surely have been damaged.

The trouble did not end there. Not only did the fire level acres of brush, but it also unearthed a decades-old municipal dump. Mountains of broken glass and rubber tires were exposed. None of Parks & Recreation’s vehicles have the necessary cleats to traverse the mess—the broken glass would have quickly flattened their rubber tires.

Fortunately for Parks & Recreation, Vinny Oppedisano, owner of Sano Construction, came to the rescue. Mr. Oppedisano has long been a friend to Parks & Recreation, donating his time and heavy-duty equipment without reserve. He has helped remove debris in Udalls Cove and Twin Coves, to name but two instances, and on April 6, he again demonstrated his dedication to New York City’s parks.

Mr. Oppedisano immediately dispatched a 40-ton track loader to the scene. Operating the monstrous vehicle himself, he knocked out the mountains of debris and loaded them onto Parks & Recreation container trucks. "We are very fortunate to have a friend like Vinny to come to Parks’ rescue," said Queens Parks Commissioner Rich Murphy. "He performs work for Parks willingly and with passion, and we are very appreciative of this partnership."

Although the brush fire was unusually large, such fires are a fairly frequent occurence in parks during dry, windy, summer days. Commissioner Murphy estimates that there are about a dozen brush fires in Queens parks alone every summer. These fires normally occur in natural areas, where fire-prone grasses like phragmites abound. In fact, on April 19, there was another brush fire, albeit a much smaller one, in Queens’ Forest Park.

To repair the damage, Commissioner Murphy has been discussing possible solutions with Parks & Recreation’s Natural Resources Group. The area in question consists mostly of phragmites, with mugwort and Japanese knotweed on the perimeter, growing in fill soil. The area is already starting to re-grow. In the long term, the area may be covered in three or more feet of clean sand and seeded with native grasses, wildflowers, shrubs, and trees.

Written by Dana Rubinstein


"Fierce fire reveals true gold."

Chinese Proverb


Commissioner Benepe began his remarks by affirming the importance of partnerships, referencing early examples such as the Central Park Conservancy, the Wildlife Conservation Society, and GreenThumb. He called our modern partnerships “strategic mainstays,” listing the positive relationships Parks & Recreation maintains with non-profit agencies, corporations, individuals, City Council Members, and city, state, and federal agencies. Commissioner Benepe also spoke about the way partnerships make the agency more accountable by requiring Parks & Recreation to take the needs of volunteers and private partners into account.

In his dicussion of partnerships, the commissioner addressed two common criticisms: that private partnerships “corporatize” parks and that partnerships contribute to a two-tier system of park maintenance. Commissioner Benepe pointed out that Parks & Recreation frequently rejects inappropriate events and sponsorship opportunities. He also stressed that any private money spent in flagship parks allows Parks & Recreation to allocate more funding to neighborhood parks. In addition, Commissioner Benepe discussed the strategies Parks & Recreation has employed to bring new funding to small parks, such as appointing new park administrators, creating catalyst sites, and bundling neighborhood parks into attractive, understandable packages for sponsors. Finally, Commissioner Benepe emphasized that any positive change to one park was a positive change for all parks, raising expectations for quality-of-life throughout the city.

Underscoring Parks & Recreation’s continued commitment to children, Commissioner Benepe identified Putting Children First as the agency’s most important initiative. Last year, Parks & Recreation served over 500,000 children with its recreational and special events programming. Commissioner Benepe talked about the positive benefits children receive from Parks & Recreation programs, and the ways that partnerships with the Departments of Education and Health and of Mental Hygiene have allowed Parks & Recreation to effectively contribute to the physical, emotional, and intellectual development of New York City’s children. Some of Parks & Recreation’s most successful inter-agency partnerships include “Shape Up New York,” Derek Jeter’s Turn2 baseball clinics, and Parks AfterSchool.

Commissioner Benepe also discussed the importance of youth athletics, highlighting new sports facitilities, such as Randall’s Island’s Ichan Stadium and Kissena Park’s velodrome. “I firmly believe that at least one of our kids will represent this country in the Olympics, but our primary goal is to make our parks worlds of play for all children. Perhaps one day, kids won't ask each other which video game they are playing this afternoon, but ask instead what park they are going to.”

Written by Hannah Gersen

“The only good government is city government.”

Christopher Osgood, 2004
(Born in 1976, Bicentennial of the Declaration of Independence)

<![CDATA[BRIGHT LIGHTS, BIG STADIUM]]> dailyplant13487 And Parks said, "Let there be light." And there was light. Last week, Parks completed its replacement of all flood lamps at Shea Stadium. Parks replaced the 816 1,000-watt light fixtures that had been there previously with 456 2,000-watt fixtures. "Compared to the old lights, they use a little less energy, but have three times the output," said Robert Principe, a construction project manager for Parks.

Musco, the lighting manufacturer for the project, used a computer program to calculate fixed aiming points in order to provide balanced light. Musco’s other projects include NASCAR, the USTA National Tennis Center and Ground Zero. Early last week, specialists conducted the final aiming, making certain all shadows were removed from the playing field. They also flagged the field and took final light meter readings.

In recent years, Major League Baseball had raised concerns that Shea Stadium was not meeting the league’s lighting standards. Since the recent construction of many new high-tech ballparks around the country, Shea had fallen to the bottom of lighting rankings. "We were in the bottom three," said Principe. "This should put us near the top now." The light replacement also spells good news for television cameras, since the new lights will provide more than the amount of "vertical foot candles" needed for television.

You can check out the new lights for yourself (in person or on TV) when the Mets play their first nighttime home game of the season on Friday, April 10 (versus the Montreal Expos).

By Eric Adolfsen


March’s Capital Project of the Month is the restoration of Kissena Lake. It will be undergoing a $1.77 million restoration project, funded by Council Member Julia Harrison, beginning this spring. It is said that the lake and park are named after the Chippewa word "kissina," meaning "it is cold."

This capital project is necessary because of construction done to the lake sixty years ago. The WPA drained the lake in 1943 and filled it with a concrete liner, giving it the nickname of a "bathtub lake." While originally this project was meant to improve the lake, the lake’s health is now at risk. Kissena Lake plays host to phragmites, a particularly invasive species of plant, and the water is frequently choked with single-cell algae.

The capital project includes constructing wells and reconstructing the storm drainage system entering the lake. Also, portions of the concrete liner will be removed, naturalizing the edge of the lake. The goal of the project is to improve the water quality which will in turn improve the plant and wildlife habitat in and around the lake. This project at Kissena Lake is the Capital Project of the Month for March.


(Tuesday, March 28, 1989)


Parks tennis permits are now on sale for the 1989 season, which officially begins Saturday, April 1 and runs through Sunday, November 26 at more than 500 tennis courts throughout the city.

Tennis permits are available at Parks offices on weekdays from 9 A.M. to 4 P.M. through November 24, and on Saturdays from 9 A.M. to Noon in April, May and June. Staten Island has no Saturday hours.


"If the people don't want to come out to the ballpark,

nobody's going to stop them."

Yogi Berra

(b. 1925)