2016-07-27 / Features

Seawall Named After Queensbridge Activist

BY THOMAS COGAN


Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer and city Parks Department Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver stand to either side (l. and r., respectively) of the Elizabeth McQueen Esplanade sign and photo of the honoree during the dedication of the esplanade in McQueen’s name, on July 22. Among the relatives and friends of McQueen, who died aged 83 in February, are: Dolores Chauncey (fourth from l., wearing straw hat); Veronica Franklin (behind Silver); Pamela Williams (to l. of Silver), McQueen’s daughter; Marion Jefferies (behind Williams); and McQueen’s grandson, Desmond Williams. 
Photo Department of Parks Press Office Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer and city Parks Department Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver stand to either side (l. and r., respectively) of the Elizabeth McQueen Esplanade sign and photo of the honoree during the dedication of the esplanade in McQueen’s name, on July 22. Among the relatives and friends of McQueen, who died aged 83 in February, are: Dolores Chauncey (fourth from l., wearing straw hat); Veronica Franklin (behind Silver); Pamela Williams (to l. of Silver), McQueen’s daughter; Marion Jefferies (behind Williams); and McQueen’s grandson, Desmond Williams. Photo Department of Parks Press Office At a ceremony on Friday, July 22 in Queensbridge Park, on the newly restored promenade above the repaired East River seawall, a tribute to the late Elizabeth McQueen, founder and leader of Friends of Queensbridge Park, was held, with Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer and city Parks Department Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver presiding.

In honor of the community activist, the walkway was named the Elizabeth McQueen Esplanade.

McQueen was a longtime resident of Queensbridge Houses, and an activist for the houses and the park situated between the buildings and the East River. She founded Friends of Queensbridge Park in 1998, at a time when the park needed all the friends it could get. Much was in bad shape, particularly the fence on the promenade beside the river, which was loosening in the crumbling seawall beneath it. The deterioration got so bad that residents and all others were cautioned to avoid the promenade as it was considered a safety hazard.

McQueen appealed to the city to get it repaired, and kept appealing for more than a decade, eventually enlisting an ally in Van Bramer, then a candidate for the City Council, who ran and won in 2009 with one of his major issues being repair of the dilapidated seawall.

In the latter days of his reelection campaign in 2013, the repair and reconstruction of the seawall, the esplanade and the fence (much of which had sagged into the river itself) was begun. In less than a year the job was done. A grand ceremony for the project’s completion was held on July 8, 2014 on the now safe walkway. On that day, Van Bramer and Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, each of whom had secured funds for the riverside repairs, joined Commissioner Silver to hail Friends of Queensbridge Park and its founder for achieving a triumph in the public interest. When McQueen died in February of this year, Van Bramer approached Commissioner Silver with the idea of naming the promenade in memory of her.

During the ceremony the Ccouncilman introduced Veronica Franklin, McQueen’s successor as head of Friends of Queensbridge Park, who said of her that “Her legacy will be remembered and she will never be forgotten.”

He then introduced Marion Jefferies, who just last year, on behalf of the NAACP, presented a Martin Luther King award to McQueen, honoring her public service.

Return to top

Copyright 1999-2018 The Service Advertising Group, Inc. All rights reserved.