2006-11-01 / Front Page

Queens Gets Rec Complex


Architectural rendering Daytime exterior of the new recreation complex designed by Hom+Goldman. Architectural rendering Daytime exterior of the new recreation complex designed by Hom+Goldman. Flushing Meadows-Corona Park will soon be home to a spectacular new recreation complex. The largest recreation facility ever built in a city park, it will house an Olympicsize pool and a NHL-standard ice rink. The public pool and ice rink will serve as a yearround facility for competitive and recreational use. The $60 million project, which was funded by Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Queens Borough President Helen Marshall and envisioned by former Queens Borough President Claire Shulman, is scheduled to be completed in Fall 2007.

"This project is one of the biggest capital investments I have made since becoming borough president," Marshall said. "It will provide a safe place for youngsters and allow the Queens Museum of Art to expand into what is now a smaller ice rink that will not compare to this new facility. In fact, my largest allocation as borough president is $21 million to make that happen."

City Department of Parks and Recreation Commissioner Adrian Benepe joined Marshall, Shulman, Economic Development Corporation Vice President David Kane, other elected officials and construction crews last Thursday for the ceremonial "toppingout" of the new Flushing Meadows-Corona Park Pool and Ice Rink. Construction crews hoisted a beam with the Parks flag next to the American flag already at the top of the structure

The building is uniquely designed with a cable supported roof system that will allow for potential expansion to a larger venue. The three-story lobby will provide a dramatic introduction to the building. The ice rink will be at ground level to the north of the building. The pool and diving tank will be on the second floor, with dramatic views of the park. The movable floor makes the Olympic-sized pool very flexible, creating the potential to have recreational swimming and competitive events simultaneously. An outdoor terrace will be accessible from the pool deck.

"Today's topping-out ceremony at the future Flushing Meadows-Corona Park Pool and Ice Rink celebrates an important milestone in the construction of what will be the largest recreational facility ever built in a city park," Benepe said. "The Olympicsize public pool, the first indoor public pool built in a Queens park in four decades, and NHL-standard ice rink will help make Flushing Meadows- Corona Park and Queens even more of an attraction."

"It is very exciting to be a part of such a unique, attractive, and technically challenging public facility," James Abadie, Principal in Charge with the construction management company Bovis Lend Lease LMB, said. "The collaboration and cooperation between all team members is a testimony to the construction management process and truly

models the best of a public/ private relationship for a great facility."

"Today, this flagship park celebrates the opening of a new era," Marshall said. "This state of the art complex will allow thousands of youngsters to begin to learn to ice skate, play hockey or swim and perhaps one day spawn an Olympic champion. It wouldn't be the first time that someone from Queens gained international success like Gertrude Ederle or Louis Armstrong, who both lived minutes from here."

The centuries-old tradition of topping out, for which the officials and builders gathered, has mixed origins, ranging from the ancient Chinese who smeared chicken blood on the highest timber of a new temple to the Teutonic tribes of Europe who placed fir trees on structures in an attempt to appease the spirits for the destruction of the timber used in the building. Regardless of its roots, the practice of topping out was brought to America by immigrants who became the country's contractors and steelworkers. Today, it is a celebration by workers and their guests for the placement of the topmost member of a structure, whether it is a bridge, an office tower or a recreation facility. While there remains a great deal of work to be done to complete the structure, topping out represents the safe and successful attainment of the highest point.

Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, one of New York City's prized flagship parks, comprises 1,255 acres of beautifully landscaped lawns, lakes, fountains, athletic fields, playgrounds and a zoo. The park is also home to the Queens Museum of Art, Shea Stadium and the Billie Jean King USTA National Tennis Center. Once a dumping ground for ashes, starting in the 1930s, the area was transformed by former Parks Commissioner Robert Moses into a site for the 1939 and 1964 World's Fairs. Both of the World's Fairs left a number of prominent structures in the park, such as the Queens Theater in the Park, the Unisphere, the boathouse, the marina, the Hall of Science, the New York State Pavilion and Towers, and Terrace on the Park.

The construction of the Flushing Meadows-Corona Park Pool and Rink is not the only Parks and Recreation project in the borough of Queens. Since 2002, Parks and Recreation has invested $157 million in Queens parks. There is also currently an additional $73 million in active construction to be completed over the next two years as well as $75 million in design or planning.

"My family has lived in the shadow of this park and has seen its tremendous rejuvenation. I want to thank Mayor Michael Bloomberg for his tremendous support," Marshall added. "I was happy to work with him to provide the funding to make this dream a reality. And so, I look forward to taking a swim with the mayor, if it is not too cold, or a spin on the ice, in the fall of 2007."

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